Wichita State Shockers

Oklahoma beats Wichita State 7-2 in regional softball opener

Wichita State's Jenni Brooks pitches during Friday’s NCAA regional game against Oklahoma.
Wichita State's Jenni Brooks pitches during Friday’s NCAA regional game against Oklahoma. Oklahoman

Error, walk, double. Followed soon by a grand slam by Oklahoma’s Nicole Pendley.

Wichita State gave itself little chance to push Oklahoma on Friday in the first game of the Norman Regional. The Shockers trailed by five runs after the first inning on their way to a 7-2 loss.

“You call a rise-ball, you can’t throw it at the waist against a Sooner,” WSU coach Kristi Bredbenner said. “She did a nice job of squaring up on that ball. That’s the end of the story.”

What happened after the first inning, however, showed the Shockers (35-20) are capable of hanging around awhile in the double-elimination tournament. They face Tulsa (35-20) at 4 p.m. in an elimination game. Jenni Brooks, pitching in relief, kept the Sooners from turning the game into a rout.

“This team has a lot of fight,” WSU left fielder Brittany Fortner. “We hope to have more than just one more game. If we get down, it doesn’t matter. We know we can come back.”

OU (48-7), the No. 3 national seed, won its 23rd straight game and will face Mississippi at 1:30 p.m.

“When I saw Wichita State was a No. 4 seed (in the regional), it was surprising,” OU coach Patty Gasso said. “I knew they could score runs. A No. 4 seed is deceptive. They’re not a typical No.4-seed team.”

Not after the first inning, anyway.

Bredbenner started Katie Malone, largely because she threw effectively last season against OU. On Friday, things went bad from the start for Malone and the Shockers.

Malone got ahead of Big 12 Player of the Year Erin Miller, who bounced a ball off the glove of third baseman Liz Broyles to reach on an error.

“If we don’t make an error in that first inning, right off the bat, we set the tone a little bit better,” Bredbenner said.

Caleigh Clifton, who wanted to bunt, walked and Sydney Romero’s double scored Miller for a 1-0 lead.

“Clifton’s going to give us an out by bunting, and we walk her,” Bredbenner said. “The error hurt, but the walk right there kind of set the tone even more.”

After a walk loaded the bases, first baseman Cacy Williams threw out Clifton at the plate for the first out.

That reprieve didn’t last long. Down 0-1 in the count, Pendley smacked her first grand slam over the center-field wall to give OU a 5-0 lead.

That five-run looked insurmountable against OU sophomore Paige Parker, the two-time Big 12 Pitcher of the Year. It was, but the Shockers kept coming. Parker struck out nine and held WSU to five hits.

Jenni Brooks replaced Malone against Miller, up for a second time in the firt inning, and ended the inning with a groundball to Williams. Brooks went 5 1/3 innings and held OU, the nation’s top hitting team, to five hits and two runs.

Her ability to keep the ball down kept the Sooners from getting the ball in the air and she retired 10 of the 21 batters faced on groundballs.

“My dropball was working really well,” Brooks said. “I was expecting myself to be a lot more anxious and nervous than I was. I tried to stay as relaxed as possible. You don’t want to show the other team that you’re nervous.” 

Wichita State cut OU’s lead to 5-2 in the third with its seniors producing.

Fortner singled, ripping the ball past Parker and into center, with one out. Williams dropped a ball into left and left fielder Kady Self dove for it and came up short. It bounced away for center fielder Nicole Pendley to pick up as Fortner rounded third.

The throw home by shortstop Kelsey Arnold sailed high, Fortner scored and Williams went to third. She scored on a single to right by Liz Broyles.

The Shockers wasted a chance to push Parker a little more in the fifth. A walk and a single by Williams put two runners on with one out. Parker struck out Paige Luellen and induced a pop up on the infield from Broyles to end the threat.

“I really was determined to not let them score any more,” Parker said.

Mississippi 5, Tulsa 1 — Madi Osias held Tulsa to four hits and Sarah Van Schaik hit a three-run home run for the Rebels.

Mississippi (40-20) is making its first NCAA appearance. Julia Hollingsworth doubled in a run for Tulsa (35-20) in the sixth inning.

Worth noting — Former WSU baseball player Kevin Hooper watched Friday’s game. Hooper, a minor-league coordinator for San Diego, worked as a volunteer assistant for the Shockers last fall. … The attendance of 1,731 is the largest for a regional game at OU and No. 4 for all games.… OU defeated the Shockers for a 33rd straight time. WSU hasn’t scored more than two runs in any of those games.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop

NCAA softball

at Norman, Okla.

Friday

  • Game 1 — Mississippi 5, Tulsa 1
  • Game 2 — Oklahoma 7, Wichita State 2

Saturday

  • Game 3 — Mississippi (40-20) vs. Oklahoma (48-7), 1:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Game 4 — Tulsa (35-20) vs. Wichita State (35-20), 4 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Game 5 — Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 winner, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN3)

Sunday

  • Game 6 — Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Game 7 — If necessary (ESPN3)
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