Sooners beat Oklahoma State and are hot on their heels for the Big 12 title

NORMAN — Tiare Jennings and Jocelyn Alo got the fame, but it was Jana Johns who started things for OU.

Johns’ 12-pitch at-bat in the third inning fueled a four-run inning, and the first-seeded Sooners rolled to a 7-1 win over the No. 7 in the Bedlam series on Thursday at Marita Hynes Field State of Oklahoma.

“We all kind of agreed it was so hard work and hard work,” said Sooners coach Patty Gasso. “And when she succeeded, it sort of bled the lineup.”

Up to this point, Kelly Maxwell had made life difficult for OU’s batsmen, retiring the first seven batsmen of the game.

But as Johns fouled from pitch to pitch, the energy in the Sooners dugout began to simmer.

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When John Maxwell’s 12th pitch drove into midfield for OU’s first hit, it turned up the heat even more, and when Alo drove two batters later in the first run of the game and Jennings followed with a three-run home run, everything was boiling.

“We’re just going crazy in the dugout, you can see that,” Jennings said of John’s at-bat. “But it’s almost like we’re going to hit the mark with her.

“As a team, we were hyped from that moment. I think that’s where it started.”

It was something Cowgirls coach Kenny Gajewski noticed from across the field.

“When she fouled those balls — they were good pitches — I watched them in the dugout fighting her and I thought, ‘That’s the championship right there,'” Gajewski said. “That’s what Championship teams do and they’ve been on every pitch, in every fight and nothing against our team – that’s not what I’m trying to say. It’s only what you see. They celebrate the tiny little things.”

The Sooners added two more in the fourth and another in the fifth after the Cowgirls overdid one in the top half.

With the win, OU (46-1, 15-1) extended his winning streak to eight and clinched a single-game Big 12 regular-season crown for the tenth straight year.

Oklahoma State (38-10, 14-2) needs to win the remaining two games to break the Sooners’ streak.

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OU's Jocelyn Alo drives a run during a third inning rally in the Sooners' 7-1 win over Oklahoma State at Marita Hynes Field in Norman on Thursday night.

The Sooners’ seven runs were the most goals against Maxwell (15-3) this season.

“I think if you ask her, she’ll tell you that she wasn’t very smart and we didn’t help her,” Gajewski said. “They hit some balls hard tonight and we don’t see that very often against them.”

Bahl (21-1) gave up four hits and hit six without walks in her first Bedlam appearance.

“It’s made differently,” Gasso said. “That’s all I can say is that she was made differently. She’s not scared or intimidated.”

The freshman has plenty of big-game experience this season, including winning games against UCLA and Kentucky in non-conference play.

“Especially the first couple of innings,” Bahl said, “you just have to focus more on your breathing and not get too excited so you’re still going to be relaxed and spin the ball, because part of pitching is just being relaxed be.”

OU’s two fourth runs in the fourth inning scored on full bases walks, then Lynnsie Elam hit on a wild pitch in the fifth.

Trailing 6-0 in the fifth, the Cowgirls broke through to the left on Sydney Pennington’s single – that hit the third base pocket – and hit pinch-runner Chelsea Alexander.

The series continues on Friday at 6 p.m.

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