Oklahoma pitcher Kelsey Stevens didn’t dominate from start to finish, but she was unhittable when she had to be.
Louisiana-Lafayette had baserunners in each of the final six innings, once loading the bases with one out, and Stevens never gave in, pitching the Sooners to a 3-1 win over the Ragin’ Cajuns in a Women’s College World Series elimination game Saturday afternoon at Hall of Fame Stadium.
“That was a fight. That was an absolute battle from start to finish,” OU coach Patty Gasso said. “I am so proud of Kelsey Stevens and the fight she put in today, not just holding them to six hits, but more than anything, they left 11 runners on base. She is finding ways to get out of innings. Timely strikeouts. They had opportunities numerous times and I’m really proud of the way Kelsey found a way to get out of it and the way the defense played behind her.”
OU advances to face Oregon at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in another elimination game.
Stevens (38-9) allowed only a solo home run to ULL’s Lexie Elkins, her 24th of the year, but otherwise stranded 11 ULL runners on the base paths.
“I almost feel more comfortable in pressure situations,” Stevens said. “I just really trust my defense and I knew we had to keep the score down to stay in the game.”
It was a much different result than the last time the Sooners saw Lafayette, which scored 15 runs in three games against OU in March.
“We definitely changed some things,” Stevens said of this meeting with the Cajuns. “They’re a good hitting team and we had to work really hard to do it.”
The Sooners did their damage with big hits. Brittany Williams’ two-run double in the first inning gave OU a 2-0 lead that stood until Callie Parsons added another in the sixth.
Parsons’ sinking line drive down the left-field line bounced past the diving left fielder and rolled to the fence as Parsons circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run — the first career homer for the junior from Pryor and just the second inside-the-park home run in WCWS history.
“I was trying to take my hacks,” Parsons said. “As soon as I saw she had missed the ball, I took off running. I saw her running back to get it, and I looked at coach and she was telling me to go all the way.”
OU managed just four hits off Lafayette starter Christina Hamilton (29-4), who allowed only seven hits in her two losses at the WCWS. Lafayette ended its season at 49-10-1.
Stevens gave up six hits and three walks, while striking out seven.
“We’re going to work as hard as we can to stay alive in this tournament,” Gasso said. “I think this team is going to be firing on all cylinders. Our absolute goal and mission is to be standing on this field on Sunday.”