OKLAHOMA CITY -- Tennessee ran into the buzzsaw that is Oklahoma softball Saturday on OGE Energy Field at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex, falling 9-0 in five innings.
The 4-seed Lady Vols remain in the Women's College World Series mix, but now must face Oklahoma State on Sunday in an elimination game.
Saturday's contest against 1-seed Oklahoma, the nation's top-ranked team that extended its record winning streak to 50 games, got out of hand quickly.
Oklahoma used huge hits to jump out to a 9-0 lead after just three innings. The Sooners got a three-run homer from Tiare Jennings in the second inning to go up 3-0 and really poured it on in the third with six more runs, featuring a two-run blast by Kinzie Hansen and a two-run triple by Rylie Boone.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma's sophomore starter, Jordy Bahl, was mowing down the Tennessee hitters. She eventually combined with Sooner relievers Alex Storako and Kierston Deal on a one-hitter.
"Certainly not the way we wanted to play or expected to play today," Tennessee coach Karen Weekly said after the game. "I'm still very proud of my team and have a lot of confidence in my team. That wasn't us out there.
"At the same time you have to give a lot of credit to Oklahoma. They are an exceptional team. We knew that coming in. We knew that we had to play a pretty near flawless game in every phase of the game to have a chance at a victory. We didn't do that, and you saw what happened."
Kiki Milloy doubled to start the game for Tennessee, and that was the only hit they could muster the entire afternoon. Weekly said the failure to capitalize on Milloy's game-opening hit was indicative of the kind of day that followed.
"The first inning we get a lead-off double," Weekly said. "Right there you are like, 'Okay, here we go.'
"It's not very often we'll get a lead-off double and not get a run. I don't think that took the wind out of our sails necessarily, but it was an opportunity we didn't capitalize on. Again, when you play a great team like Oklahoma, you've got to take advantage of everything you can get, then not give them anything."
That was hardly the case on this occasion. The Sooners rapped out seven hits but also took advantage of five walks Tennessee handed out. A parade of four Tennessee pitchers started with Karlyn Pickens in the circle, but she lasted just 1.2 innings, leaving after giving up the home run to Jennings in the second inning.
Weekly said she had planned all along to throw multiple pitchers to try to keep the formidable Oklahoma lineup off-balance. But it didn't work.
"I felt like Karlyn presented a pretty good option to start with. I didn't plan on anyone going the full game or letting them see anybody too many times," Weekly said. "I thought that was something else important in terms of just trying to keep them off balance. We planned to throw different people at 'em. The people we put in there I thought had the pitches in their arsenal that would be most successful. We didn't execute in a lot of those instances, but ultimately that decision is on me."
The other side of the story in the circle started with Oklahoma's Bahl, who threw the first 3.2 innings, walking one and striking out three.
"I just felt like we just got jammed up a lot. There was just a lot of weak contact," Weekly said. "I'd have to see the film to know if we were getting out of the zone a little bit on some of those. She's a great pitcher, too. That's what great pitchers do, they get you swinging."
The win improved Oklahoma to 57-1 on the season. The Sooners' lone loss came by a single run to Baylor back on Feb. 19.
Weekly said she expects her team to bounce back Sunday night against Oklahoma State.
"We knew we were the underdog coming in, right? I mean, everybody's picking Oklahoma, deservedly so," she said. "I think any motivation we get is we're disappointed in how we played. ... Those girls want to play a whole lot better. They got a lot more pride than what we showed today."
Milloy added: "You have to have a short-term memory. We have another good team tomorrow, another good opponent. We're just flushing this game. If we face them again in this tournament, we'll talk about it when the time comes."
HOW IT HAPPENED
B2 | Grace Lyons walked to open the inning for Oklahoma. After the next two batters struck out, Jayda Coleman reached on infield single to shortstop and Jennings followed with a three-run homer to center, driving starting pitcher Karlyn Pickens from the game in favor of reliever Charli Orsini. Oklahoma 3, Tennessee 0.
B3 | Cydney Sanders singled and scored one out later when Kinzie Hansen homered to left center. Nicola Simpson replaced Orsini as Tennessee's pitcher. Lyons struck out but reached first when the ball got past UT catcher Giulia Koutsoyanopulos. Alynah Torres singled and Rylie Boone followed with a two-run triple to left center. Coleman walked and eventually came around to score Oklahoma's sixth run of the inning on a wild pitch. Oklahoma 9, Tennessee 0.
Tennessee (50-9) falls into the loser's bracket and will face Oklahoma State in an elimination game at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday. The game will be televised by ESPN2.