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Daily Dozen: Opening Day 2021

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  • Boomer Sooner. Oklahoma set the NCAA single-game home run record with 13 home runs IN ONLY FIVE INNINGS to kick off the 2021 season. True freshman Tiare Jennings led the Sooners to a 29-0 five-inning victory over UTEP going 4 for 4 with three home runs and 6 RBIs. OU added three more home runs later in the day in a 9-0 five-inning victory over Abilene Christian. The 16 total home runs on opening day were more than 187 teams hit in ALL of the Covid-shortened 2020 season.
  • No. 9 Texas called off the Texas Classic in its entirety due to inclement winter weather. That wiped out arguably the most anticipated games of the week, with No. 4 Arizona and No. 8 Alabama also on hand. Alabama quickly adjusted, scheduling single games against Alabama State and Notre Dame and a doubleheader against Louisville. Arizona and Texas appear set to wait and open the season next week (against North Texas on Feb. 17 for the Longhorns and against New Mexico on Feb. 19 for the Wildcats). One ramification is that, barring more changes, Arizona likely won’t face a ranked opponent until March, while Texas may face ranked opposition only once before a three-game series against LSU next month.
     
  • Inclement weather also claimed the Louisiana Classics (yes, it’s plural), featuring No. 7 Louisiana and No. 19 Baylor. But Baylor might see the silver lining in this particular winter cloud. COVID protocols and contact tracing meant head coach Glenn Moore was expecting to be without multiple pitchers in Louisiana. Regrouping back in Waco before hosting next week’s Getterman Classic, which includes former Big 12 foe Missouri, isn’t the worst outcome. 
  • Arizona State capped Opening Day with a walk-off home run to sweep BYU in a doubleheader. Fifth-year senior Alli Tatnall – dubbed ASU’s “Walk-off Queen” – blasted a shot to deep center field in the eighth inning of Game 2 to complete a comeback for a 7-5 win in Tempe. In the 7-2 victory over BYU in the Game 1, fifth-year senior Cielo Meza recorded 11 strikeouts and just one walk.
  • Back-to-back home runs by Taylor Pleasants and Amanda Doyle put LSU up 3-0 in the first against McNeese State. Mother Nature interrupted the game as lightening entered the area causing a 30-minute delay before the Tigers returned to the field to polish off an 8-0 win in six innings. Shelbi Sunseri lit it up on both sides, collecting six strikeouts in the circle and going 2-3 with a triple and home run, which was a walk-off to end things early.
  • The first Top 25 matchup of the season featured a lot of offense. Michaela Richbourg led Oklahoma State to the win, launching two homers (3 RBIs) against No. 16 Arkansas. OSU newcomer Jordan Doggett added to the offense going 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs, and returning All-American Alysen Febrey went 2-for-4, with one home run, 2 RBIs.

• The NCAA released a promo video that will make you weep with joy. Enjoy the history. Enjoy the road to OKC.

• Arkansas’ redshirt senior Braxton Burnside recored her third career two-homer game to lead the Razorbacks offense with four RBIs. Burnside came out swinging in the first, blasting a 0-0 pitch over the fence to give Arkansas the early lead. The second homer was a towering three-run shot to regain the lead in the bottom of the sixth, giving Arkansas a 11-10 edge.

• Cal Baptist swept UC Davis for the first time since 2016. Graduate Kerisa Viramontes picked up 11 strikeouts in a nine-inning complete-game victory.

• The opening day’s best pitching performance? It might have been Illinois State senior Morgan Day striking out 12 and shutting out North Florida. She’s averaging 8.48 strikeouts per seven innings since the start of her sophomore season. Only five active pitchers have a better career strikeout rate — all from power conferences. 

• Abilene Christian didn’t break any NCAA records in a 13-6 win against UTEP, but Samantha Bradley will remember the day just the same. After hitting five home runs in her first four years of college softball, which included sitting out seasons at both Louisiana-Lafayette and Abilene Christian and the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, she hit two against UTEP. For good measure, she got the win in the circle. 

• Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy used the ‘Slide’ into my DMs invitation that some college basketball coaches have perfected to schedule last minute games. It worked. Within a few hours, the Tide were back on the weekend schedule.

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