Not that Kleist was concerned about the official scorer’s decision and in fact coaxed the next hitter into a 1-6-3 double play to put the debate to rest.
“They’ve had my back through thick and thin, definitely,” she said of her defense. “(Oklahoma) is going to hit really good pitches and when they do, you just hope your defense is going to make plays and they did today … so this is really nothing because they make a bunch of plays that save me a bunch of runs all the time.”
Shortstop D.J. Sanders likely would tell you she should have come up with the sharply hit grounder that was ruled Oklahoma’s only base hit in the fourth inning but instead her postgame remarks focused on the first inning, two-run home run she lofted over the left field wall that gave Kleist all the run support she would need.
“It felt really nice coming off the bat,” she said. “I didn’t really think I was going to swing at it until the ball was more than halfway there … but (Coach White) has talked about us being more aggressive, that was our game plan.”
With the early lead, Kleist adjusted to a tightly called strike zone, allowing the Sooners to put the ball in play and let her defense get the outs. Improving season record to 14-5, Kleist struck out five and walked only one batter.
The Ducks went yard again in the third inning when Mary Iakopo squared up a 3-1 fastball and laced it into the left field netting to put Oregon ahead 3-0.
Mia Camuso led off the fifth with a single and scored on Jenna Lilley’s base hit then Sanders picked up her third RBI of the day pulling a 3-2 pitch between shortstop and third base to plate Lilley for the games’ final run.
“This is about getting ready for the postseason,” White said of the heavyweight mid-season non-conference match-up with two time defending national champion Sooners. “Playing teams like that, seeing their approach and what they do, is good for us.”
“They’re a quality team over there and we know this really doesn’t mean anything in the whole scheme of things, it’s great we broke the streak and that we played well in a big situation in front of a big crowd. That’s all great, but tomorrow it’s back to zero-zero and it doesn’t matter really.
Oregon immediately returns to Pac-12 play, hosting Stanford for a three game series beginning Friday at 6:00 pm.
~ Rick Morgan