Oklahoma ties Division I softball mark with 47th straight win, topping Clemson in super regionals
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Haley Lee's grand slam helped put Oklahoma in the history books.
The Sooners matched the longest winning ever in Division I softball, claiming their 47th straight victory with a 9-2 win over Clemson on Friday in super regional play. Oklahoma tied Arizona’s run that started in 1996 and stretched into the 1997 season.
Oklahoma (55-1) handled Clemson pitcher Valerie Cagle — one of three finalists for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. Cagle gave up eight runs on seven hits in four innings.
Top-seeded Oklahoma can gain sole possession of the record with a win over the 16th-seeded Tigers on Saturday. A victory also would send the two-time defending national champion Sooners back to the Women’s College World Series. A Clemson win would force a winner-take-all game on Sunday.
Oklahoma, which entered the super regional leading the nation in fielding percentage, committed two errors in the fifth. Clemson scored two runs in the inning and loaded the bases with just one out, but Oklahoma pitcher Jordy Bahl escaped without allowing further damage.
Oklahoma loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth before Lee’s blast chased Cagle.
Bahl got the win for the Sooners. She gave up eight hits, but just two runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Cagle had three hits, but did not score as Clemson left nine runners on.
Oklahoma State pitcher Kelly Maxwell was two outs from a perfect game in Game 2 of the Stillwater Super Regional before Oregon’s Allee Bunker broke it up with a single in the seventh inning.
Maxwell registered a strikeout for the first out in the seventh before Bunker’s hit took the energy out of the home crowd.
Maxwell still managed a two-hitter, and No. 6 seed Oklahoma State defeated the Ducks 9-0 to advance to the World Series for the fourth consecutive season. The Cowgirls won the first game 8-1 on Thursday.
Oklahoma State’s Kiley Naomi nearly hit for the cycle against Oregon on Friday.
She went 4 for 4 with four RBIs and two runs scored. She singled in the first inning, doubled in the fourth and hit a three-run homer in the fifth that broke the game open. She needed a triple in the seventh to hit for the cycle, but settled for a second double.
Florida State held on to beat Georgia 4-2 and advance to the World Series.
Georgia made things interesting late, putting runners on second and third with two outs against Seminoles ace Kathryn Sandercock. But a fly out to left ended the threat, and third-seeded Florida State celebrated.
Florida State won the opener 8-1 on Thursday.
Alabama pitcher Montana Fouts returned after missing regional play with a hyperextended left knee, but it didn't go as planned for the Crimson Tide. Northwestern defeated Alabama 3-1 in the first game of the Tuscaloosa Super Regional.
Fouts, who entered super regional play as the nation's leader in strikeouts, wore a brace over the knee. She didn't have the usual velocity on her pitches and her mobility was limited. She lasted 3 1/3 innings and gave up three runs on five hits.
Jaala Torrence, who carried Alabama through the regional, stepped in and gave up two hits in 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Danielle Williams got the win for Northwestern. She allowed just one run on six hits and struck out six.
Northwestern can clinch a second straight World Series trip with a win on Saturday. An Alabama win would force a decisive game on Sunday.
Stanford freshman NiJaree Canady was ready for the big stage.
She gave up one run on four hits to help the No. 9 seed Cardinal defeat No. 8 seed Duke 3-1 in the first game of the Durham Super Regional on Friday.
Canady entered the game with a 15-1 record and a 0.46 ERA. She threw 97 pitches against Duke on Friday, including 75 for strikes.
PUNI LOOMS LARGE
Zaidi Puni has gone on an unexpected home run binge for Tennessee.
Puni, an All-Southeastern Conference first-team selection as an infielder, had only eight home runs heading into NCAA Tournament play. She hit four home runs in regional play, then cranked a three-run blast off the scoreboard in the Knoxville Super Regional opener that helped the No. 4 seed Lady Vols beat Texas 5-2.
Texas, which reached the championship series at the World Series last year, now will need to win Saturday and Sunday to get back.
Ruby Meylan threw a two-hitter, and Washington defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 8-0 in five innings to win the Seattle Super Regional opener. Meylan struck out seven in five innings.
___ Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: twitter.com/CliffBruntAP