Balance paves the way for Sooners softball

Oklahoma softball had another one of those innings this weekend. One of those opponent-demoralizing frames where the Sooners assert themselves and chalk up another run-rule.

This time around it was an 11-run bottom of the fourth against No. 16 Kentucky on Friday night, en route to an 18-0 (5) victory.

The Sooners hit six home runs in the contest, including Kinzie Hansen hitting two and driving in seven runs. But if it wasn’t for a hit-by-pitch, Alex Storako would have had a five-inning perfect game.

It’s balance, and it’s something head coach Patty Gasso has stressed whenever she has talked about this 2023 team.

Yes, the hitting is still as stout as ever. But when you have the pitching staff the Sooners do, it can be equally as dominant. Or on some days, even better.

Storako struck out five and is now 5-0 this season, with a miniscule 0.27 ERA.

It was a welcome home party for the Sooners, as OU was dominant in its first four home games of the season. A 4-0 weekend puts the No. 1 team at 17-1 overall.

OU added another ranked victory against the Wildcats, winning 7-1 on Saturday afternoon.

No. 1 OU 5, Illinois-Chicago 0 (Friday)

Nobody saw this as being the most interesting or stressful game of the weekend, but it was. At least for a time. Not only did OU have to bat in the bottom of the fifth because it wasn’t a run-rule situation, the Sooners were only up 1-0.

Then the bats got going in the home opener. Haley Lee hit a two-run home run in the fifth, and Rylie Boone did the same in the sixth.

The offense waking up late vs. UIC then led to the 18-run explosion against Kentucky later in the evening.

Even 1-0 is enough for Nicole May, though. The junior had another stellar outing, going seven innings with just two hits and striking out 11.

No.1 OU 7, No. 16 Kentucky 1 (Saturday)

A five-run second inning put this one away early, and leadoff hitter Jayda Coleman has officially found her groove.

After not having a home run in the first two weekends, Coleman has now hit a round-tripper in five of the last six games.

Coleman hit a three-run blast in that five-run inning and is now hitting .455 this season.

Leave the rest to Jordy Bahl. At the plate, she had two hits and drove in two runs. In the circle, the sophomore went all seven innings, giving up one run on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts.

OU 9, UIC 0 (5) (Saturday)

Sometimes, OU doesn’t need the long ball. The Sooners scored six in the bottom of the first but didn’t hit a home run in the game.

Sophia Nugent, who had a three-run homer Friday vs. UK, added a two-run double vs. the Flames. Tiare Jennings had two doubles and drove in a run.

May struck out nine in four innings and is now 5-0 this season.

Up next: OU heads to Mississippi State for a weekend Invitational in Starkville. The Sooners will play SE Louisiana (Friday), then MSU (Friday, Saturday) before closing out vs. Omaha (Sunday).