NORMAN — Oklahoma softball coach Patty Gasso never considered a pitching change Wednesday night, even when Oklahoma State loaded the bases in the final inning and was one swing from taking a lead.
“It was her game to win,” Gasso said of sophomore Kelsey Stevens.
Win is exactly what Stevens did, wrapping up a shutout performance when OSU’s Ali Morrison flied out to left field to end the Sooners’ 2-0 Bedlam victory inside Marita Hynes Stadium.
The Sooners won their seventh straight game, improving to 25-8 on the season and 4-0 in Big 12 Conference play. The Cowgirls fell to 19-15 overall and 0-4 in the league.
Tuesday’s game was scoreless through three innings, but the Sooners scored in the bottom of the fourth inning when right fielder Erin Miller’s chopper took a difficult hop, scoring left fielder Kady Self.
Oklahoma added its second run when junior Shelby Pendley blasted a sixth-inning pitch over the left-center field fence for her 11th home run of the season.
After run-ruling Iowa State in all three games of its first Big 12 series last weekend, Oklahoma found a different way to win against its in-state rival Wednesday.
OSU senior pitcher Simone Freeman allowed two runs in six innings Wednesday, dropping to 14-8 on the season.
“We walked out feeling pretty big-time,” Gasso said of the Iowa State series. “We faced a really good pitcher (Wednesday), and we realized that we’ve gotta make adjustments and we’ve gotta work a little bit harder.”
Oklahoma is still adjusting to life without junior first baseman Lauren Chamberlain, the team’s captain and best player who is out with a back injury.
The defending national champion Sooners also don’t have superstar Keilani Ricketts, whose arm and bat helped Oklahoma to back-to-back College World Series final appearances in 2012 and 2013.
“They weren’t in the lineup very much last year, so they’re learning on the fly,” Gasso said of her young batters. “It’s fun to watch them because they’re getting better. We’re seeing growth, we’re seeing development, but we’re still finding ways to win.”
Stevens, meanwhile, improved to 17-5 on the season with Wednesday’s shutout. She struck out eight Cowgirls and allowed six hits.
Oklahoma State coach Rich Wieligman said he was proud that his team didn’t quit and put itself in a position to win late Wednesday.
“That’s the way it’s been all year,” Wieligman said. “They’re giving themselves opportunities, and that’s huge.
“They’re showing up ready to play; we’ve just gotta turn them into W’s now.”