🥎 Walk-off HR keeps OU's perfect season alive
Oklahoma swept its weekend series with Baylor but needed some late-game heroics from Tiare Jennings to preserve its undefeated record in Sunday's series finale.
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NORMAN, Okla. — Following a rare seven-inning game for top-ranked Oklahoma, sophomore Tiare Jennings said she never questioned her confidence. The Sooners’ Sunday starter, Hope Trautwein, also admitted she didn’t feel much pressure in the circle.
The players and their coach, Patty Gasso, actually spent a lot of their postgame news conference giving praise to Baylor, which almost handed OU its first loss of the season.
Because Trautwein struck out 13 and kept the Bears to one hit and Jennings blasted a walk-off, three-run homer to center field, the Sooners (29-0) won 3-1 Sunday to sweep their first Big 12 series.
It was a dramatic ending to an otherwise run-of-the-mill weekend. The Sooners beat Baylor 9-1 in five innings on Friday and 8-0 in five frames the next day.
I sometimes wonder if Gasso prefers days like Sunday over the routs her team usually delivers.
So, I asked her.
“I will be honest with you,” she replied, “we don't want to run-rule everybody. Because right now, when we count it up, our pitching staff is missing over 40 innings. That's a lot of innings that they need to pitch to get work. So, it's nice to feel it, but it just kind of hurts in some other ways as well.
“We needed this more than anything you could ever imagine. We're athletic enough to find ways to win. If we would have lost this game, it would not have hurt us but more help us, and I knew that. So, as a coach, we're going in not feeling the pressure of we must win this game.
“The challenge is what we need.”
🎥 Watch Oklahoma’s seventh-inning rally to beat Baylor 3-1
🏎 Need for speed
First-year offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby wants to play fast. And if he can deliver a soul-crushing, uptempo offense to Norman, I’m sure the majority of OU fans won’t complain.
Lebby arrives from Ole Miss, where he partnered with Lane Kiffin to produce one of the most exciting offenses in college football last season. He also coached under his father-in-law, the disgraced former Baylor coach Art Briles, when the Bears quickly went from Big 12 doormat to perennial contender.
So, how is the team handling the change so far? A quote this past week from starting center Andrew Raym, courtesy The Oklahoman:
“We’re running a lot of plays in a short amount of time. Even our defense is telling us right now, it’s going to be a defense killer.”
That can be good and bad. Playing fast means more opportunities for the offense to burn a tired defense. But how that pace pairs with Brent Venables’ highly anticipated defense ought to be interesting after watching seven seasons of Lebby’s predecessor struggle to balance scoring at lightning speed, while playing sound defense for all four quarters.
Perhaps this staff is better equipped to strike that balance. It certainly can’t be any worse than the lowest of the lows of the previous regime.
📚 Read options
🏈 Oklahoma receiver Jalil Farooq addresses why he stayed at OU, after his childhood friend Caleb Williams departed Norman this offseason: “We always wanted to come to the same college. Unfortunately, things do happen. Life. We had to deal with adversity. He made his decision, I made mine.” (Read more at oudaily.com)
🏈 “I’m 100 percent confident going into this season” — Injuries derailed receiver Theo Wease’s 2021 campaign, but the former five-star recruit is ready to prove himself in Lebby’s offense. (Read more at si.com)
🏈 Oklahoma commit Jackson Arnold, who’s one of the top Class of 2023 quarterback prospects, earned a spot in the Elite 11 Finals. (Read more at si.com)
⚾️ It’s rivalry week for Oklahoma baseball, which won its series against Baylor over the weekend. The Sooners face Oklahoma State Tuesday in Tulsa before a weekend series against Texas in Arlington. (Read more at soonersports.com)