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Oklahoma Holds Off Oregon, Heads to Regional Sunday at 2-0

Oklahoma's Kelly Maxwell (28) throws a pitch during the Norman Regional NCAA tournament game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Oregon Ducks at Love's Field in Norman, Okla. Saturday, May, 18, 2024.

When Kelly Maxwell reentered the circle in the seventh inning, and the five-run lead she’d worked into was cut to three runs, there should’ve been an uneasy feeling inside Love’s Field.

But there wasn’t, as Oklahoma’s ace slammed the door on a gritty Oregon offense, preserving a 6-3 win for OU.

Maxwell had worked 6.0 IP, allowing just one hit–albeit a solo home run to Oregon’s centerfielder Ariel Carlson–and had seven Ks on her way to retiring 14 consecutive batters before Patty Gasso opted to take the ball out of her hands.

 

Karlie Keeney then entered the circle in the seventh and there was little reason to question the move at the time. Keeney has proven successful out of the bullpen this year, and Maxwell was approaching the 100-pitch mark on a hot afternoon. All signs pointed to an uneventful to half of the seventh before Keeney put the finishing touches on a gem from No. 28.

That wasn’t what the Ducks had in mind, however. Keeney gave up hits to all three batters she faced, and Oregon scored a couple of runs in the span of a few minutes.

Then, Maxwell came back in, struck out a batter, forced the next into a double play, and that was that.

 

The Sooners’ offense was opportunistic and explosive in spurts, turning nine hits into six runs, including a solo home run from Tiare Jennings in the fifth and a two-run blast from Ella Parker in the sixth.

Parker, a freshman coming off Big 12 Championship MVP honors, continues to be a force for OU at the plate. Since the beginning of the Big 12 Tournament, Parker is 11-of-18 (.611) with nine runs, 10 RBI, and two home runs.

Oklahoma was 9-of-26 (.346) at the plate, while Oregon was 4-of-24 (.167) on the day, and just 1-of-21 (.047) against Maxwell.

The win sets Oklahoma up nicely on Sunday, as they’ll be 2-0 and need just one victory to advance to the Super Regionals. Meanwhile, the loss sends Oregon to the loser’s bracket, where they’ll face the winner of Boston vs. Cleveland State later on this evening.

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