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OU softball: Sooners overcome Northwestern, 3-0, despite struggling bats in NCAA Norman Super Regional

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Caleigh Clifton

Senior infielder Caleigh Clifton attempts to avoid being tagged out in the game against Texas Tech May 10.

One more win.

That's all Oklahoma needs to make a trip to Oklahoma City for the 2019 Women's College World Series. 

To get there, the Sooners will need to take down Northwestern for what would be the fourth time in 2019. On Friday, they dispatched the Wildcats, 3-0, behind another stellar performance from junior Giselle Juarez. In the first inning, Juarez allowed two batters two reach base, but then 14 of the next 15 Wildcats failed to get to base.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Sooners held a 3-0 lead and Juarez started the inning by allowing a double. After that, she shut down Northwestern in what would be the team's final trip to the plate of the game. Despite the performance, Juarez said she didn't play up to her full capabilities, and head coach Patty Gasso echoed those sentiments.

"That is where the level of excellence is in her," Gasso said. "She had a lot of strikeouts, she only gave up two hits, but there were times where she was not up to herself. When you miss a pitch, you want it to be close enough to where they might pounce, but her misses were not as close to the strike zone as they normally are."

Oklahoma led the nation in both ERA and batting average during the regular season. While the pitchers have continued their stellar play during the post season, the bats haven't kept up with their usual standards. After winning via run-rule, 12-0, in the opening game of the Norman Regional against UMBC, the Sooners haven't scored more than four runs in a game.

"Were in the postseason. We're not blowing people out," Gasso said. "If (our opponent) is here and their still alive, then they've got really good pitchers. So, were not saying 'wow, we didn't get nine hits,' it's now about finding a way to manufacture runs. I think any team will tell you the same thing."

Against Northwestern, the Sooners could only manage to hit off of Northwestern pitcher Danielle Williams three times. The freshman pitcher gave the Sooners' batting order trouble through most of the game. In the first inning, sophomore Jocelyn Alo hit an impressive ball all the way to the left field wall that plated senior Sydney Romero. After the first, Williams stalled the batting order until the fifth inning, where Romero and senior Caleigh Clifton both scored a pair of insurance runs to make the score 3-0.

"I just feel like this lineup knows that anything can happen at any time," Alo said "We're all very confident in ourselves and we know if we go 0-4 or 4-4, our team is going to have our back no matter what. We just try to keep that in the back of our head."

Oklahoma will play Northwestern again at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, at Marita Hynes Field.

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