Alabama (45-13) took the early two-run lead off a first-inning RBI single by Jadyn Spencer and a third inning solo homer by Haylie McCleney, making McCleney the first Tide player since Amanda Locke in 2012 to hit a home run in four straight games. All five of McCleney’s hits so far in the NCAA Tournament have been home runs. After falling behind, the Tide would bring the potential game-winning run to the plate but a strikeout ended the potential walk-off rally.
Alabama starter Alexis Osorio (19-8) did her part in the circle for 5.0 innings, holding Oklahoma (49-7) hitless until the Sooners finally broke through with a five-run sixth inning, helped by a pair of two-run homers by Lauren Chamberlain and Kady Self. Osorio would end up throwing 6.1 innings as Sydney Littlejohn entered with one out in the top of the seventh, securing the final two outs in the half-inning. The five hitless innings was the furthest the Sooners have gone in a game without earning a hit this season.
Freshman lefty Paige Parker (28-5) persevered through some early trouble in the circle to turn in a strong performance, tossing a complete game victory with two runs on five hits and six strikeouts.
Demi Turner battled through a seven pitch at-bat to lead off the bottom of the first with a double and, two batters later, Spencer drove her in with another double to give Alabama the early 1-0 lead. McCleney doubled the Tide’s lead in the bottom of the third, rocketing a solo homer into center field to make it 2-0.
Oklahoma wouldn’t earn its first hit until the top of the sixth inning, a leadoff single up the middle by Callie Parsons, and Chamberlain quickly erased the lead on one big swing in the next at-bat, blasting a two-run homer to left field to tie the game at 2-2. Later with two on and nobody out, a sacrifice bunt moved the pair into scoring position and a long sacrifice fly to center field moved them up 60 feet again, giving Oklahoma the 3-2 lead with a runner at third and two out. Self added some cushion with a two-run homer that banged off the foul pole in left field, making it 5-2.
Alabama would head to the bottom of the seventh still trailing by three. Danielle Richard led off the half-inning with a perfectly placed bunt in between a charging pitcher and first baseman and then moved to second on a wild pitch. A strikeout and a groundout brought the Tide down to its final out but McCleney and Spencer were walked and hit by a pitch to bring the potential game-winning run to the plate. After fouling off two pitches on a full count, a strikeout would end it as the Sooners got out of the jam and held on to win, 5-2.
Game two of the best-of-three series will be played on Saturday, May 23 at 4 p.m. CT live on ESPN. If necessary, a third game will be played at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN2.