NORMAN – Oklahoma’s pitching staff had a private meeting in the days leading up to this weekend’s NCAA Norman Regional.
What was the theme of the meeting? It is carrying on a team attitude during the most important portion of the softball season.
Giselle Juarez, Mariah Lopez and Shannon Saile teamed for the first combined perfect game in OU history, a 12-0, five-inning win over UMBC on Friday night. The trio struck out 12 of the 15 batters they faced.
“It’s all about each other,” Juarez said. “It’s not just one of us. We know we can’t do it alone. For tonight to happen, it was really exciting because we just had that conversation. It’s really cool because we all got to contribute It was a fun experience with them.”
OU (50-2) will play Wisconsin (41-12) in a winners bracket game at 3 p.m. Saturday. The Badgers defeated Notre Dame 4-2 in the opener.
UMBC (30-23) will take on the Fighting Irish in a 5:30 p.m. elimination game.
The University of Maryland-Baltimore County was the America East Conference champion, but it hadn’t faced a team of OU’s caliber in 2019.
The Sooners slammed three two-run home runs and scored in every inning.
OU, the top overall seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament, won its 40th consecutive game. It is the second-longest streak in NCAA Division I history, trailing only Arizona’s 47-game win streak in 1996-97.
“I’m very pleased with the way things got started,” OU coach Patty Gasso said. “I thought UMBC’s pitcher (Courtney Coppersmith) was really good. For a freshman coming out with a big crowd, I thought she did a nice job. We were trying to figure her out and it took us a little while to do that.
“But what allowed us some time was a great performance by not only Giselle, but Mariah and Shannon. It was really important for us to get all three pitchers on the mound tonight to give them a feel of the crowd and the intensity of things. I was really pleased with the way that worked out.”
Juarez (23-0) pitched the first three innings. She struck out the first five hitters she faced and ended with six.
The left-hander only allowed one ball out of the infield, a lazy fly ball to center field.
Lopez pitched a 1-2-3 fourth inning, striking out all three batters. Saile closed the game with three strikeouts, as well.
“It comes back to being a team within a team,” Juarez said. “It’s knowing that we’re going to do it together. It’s not an individual thing. It’s being selfless in every moment. And for all of us, we could all be starters, we all could be relievers and closers. It’s something that’s cool and different about our staff, knowing that we have to work together and accept our role, whatever is given to us on that day.”
Added Gasso: “These pitchers, all of them, could be the No. 1 with any program. But they understand that this connection is important to get what they want. They surrender their ego for it. …read more
Source:: Daily times