By Wendell Barnhouse | email@example.com
Oklahoma and Texas advanced to the NCAA Division I Softball super regionals while Baylor came up just short of keeping its season alive Sunday in regional action.
The top-seeded Sooners romped to three victories in the Norman Regional, capped by a 14-1 five-inning victory over Arkansas. OU won three games by a combined score of 41-6. Oklahoma (50-4) will play host to No. 16 seed Texas A&M (42-16) in the three-game super regional.
The Sooners and the Aggies will play Game One at 6 p.m. Thursday on ESPN. Game Two will be at 3 p.m. Friday (ESPNU) with Game Three (if necessary) at 6 p.m. Friday on ESPN.
The fourth-seeded Longhorns also rolled to three victories to win the Austin Regional. Junior Taylor Thom hit two home runs and drove in six runs in a 6-0 victory over South Carolina. The Longhorns outscored their three opponents by a total of 22-2.
Texas (47-8) will also host a super regional. The Longhorns will face unseeded Florida State (43-17), which upset No. 13 seed South Alabama to win Mobile (Ala.) Regional. Game One will be at 8 p.m. Friday, Game Two at 2 p.m. Saturday and Game Three (if necessary) will be at 5 p.m. Saturday. All of the games in Austin will be televised on ESPNU.
Baylor (42-17) pushed Texas A&M, the former member of the Big 12, to the limit Sunday. The Lady Bears lost to the Aggies 6-5 Saturday but forced a winner-take-all contest with a 9-5 come-from-behind victory. But Texas A&M hit five home runs to win the deciding game, 8-0, in five innings.
The Sooners tallied 11 and took advantage of four Arkansas errors. Of the team's 14 runs, only five were earned. Oklahoma took control with a five-run third inning kept alive by a dropped fly ball with two outs. Lauren Chamberlain capped the inning with a three-run homer, her 27th of the season.
"Softball is a game of momentum, and we know that," Chamberlain said. "As the season has been going on we've gotten better at knowing when we can capitalize on errors and knowing when the game changes. I think our aggressive style allows us to do that as well."
Oklahoma followed up the third inning with six runs in fourth.
"I'm very proud of this team and their performance today," Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso said. "They came out ready to play. Our goal was to make it one game. That was our focus and our commitment, and we were locked in and ready to go. I'm very proud of them."
UT's Thom hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the first and a grand slam in the fifth, setting the UT record for RBI during an NCAA Tournament contest. The grand slam was Thom's fourth of the season and she became the fifth player in NCAA history with four or more slams in a season. She also set a Texas season record with 63 RBI.
"Since I was five, I've had the dream to play for Texas," Thom said. "For me to be here and be making a big difference on the team is an amazing feeling."
Texas senior Blaire Luna posted a 0.93 earned-run average during the three regional contests. She struck out 19 in 15 innings. In Sunday's game, she twice worked out of bases-loaded jam without allowing a run.
"I think it's amazing with our mentality that we have had over the last couple of weeks of just slowing everything down, not panicking and owning the moment," Texas coach Connie Clark said. "It was good for us to go through that for us to be able to do what we want to do over the next couple of weeks. I think we are right where we need to be mentally."
Super Regional Scoring
The 16 teams that have advanced to the super regionals of the NCAA Softball championship and their total runs scored and allowed in their regionals.
|Louisiana Lafayette||Sun Belt||7-0|