When playing against what is said to be the best team in the history of the sport, you cannot make a mistake. Unfortunately, for Clemson’s softball team, it made too many on Friday.
The Sooners used three home runs and an error to take down the Tigers, 9-2, in Game 1 of the Norman (Okla.) Super Regional at Marita Hynes Field. The win was Oklahoma’s 47th straight, tying Arizona for the longest win streak in the history of the sport. The Wildcats set the mark in 1998.
Most importantly, Oklahoma is one win away from clinching yet another spot in the Women’s College World Series. Clemson will have to win Game 2 on Saturday to force a third and decisive game and then win again in Game 3 to advance to the WCWS.
The Sooners (55-1) blew the game open with a Haley Lee grand slam to centerfield in the bottom of the fifth inning. The blast came off Clemson ace Valerie Cagle, who also gave up a home run in the fourth inning to first baseman Cydney Sanders.
Alyssa Brito followed Lee’s blast with a home run to centerfield off reliever Millie Thompson.
Lee’s grand slam was the difference between the top-ranked Sooners and the Tigers. In the top of the fifth inning, after plating two runs on a Caroline Jacobsen double down the left field, Clemson loaded the bases with one out.
However, Aby Viera struck out swinging for the second out and JoJo Hyatt lined out to second base to end the threat.
Clemson (48-11) had many missed opportunities. The Tigers matched Oklahoma with eight hits, but they were 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position, while Oklahoma was 2-for-5 in those spots.
Cagle was charged with the loss, as she gave up a career-high eight runs (seven earned) on seven hits. The Sooners ran her out of the circle after Lee’s grand slam in the fourth. She had just two strikeouts in four innings of work.
Though Cagle did not have her best performance in the circle, the ACC’s Player of the Year had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double.
Stat of the Game: Clemson was 4-for-10 with two outs.
Player of the Game: Haley finished the afternoon with five RBIs.
Key Moment: The Sooners loaded the bases with three infield hits in the top of the fifth inning with no outs, setting up Lee’s grand slam to centerfield. That gave Oklahoma an 8-2 lead at the time.
Up Next: Clemson and Oklahoma will play Game 2 of the Norman Super Regional at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
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