Hope Trautwein delivers gem as OU softball shuts out Iowa State in Big 12 semifinal

NORMAN — The only doubt once the ball jumped off OU’s Lynnsie Elam’s bat in the first inning of Friday’s Big 12 softball tournament semifinal was whether or not Elam’s blast would stay fair.

It did, landing well beyond the left-field wall for a grand slam to kickstart the Sooners’ 5-0 victory over Iowa State.

OU came in needing an early spark, having dominated early most of the season but going scoreless in the first two innings in each of its previous four games.

“It’s important for every game, but it’s very important in postseason obviously as these games continue to get tougher and tougher and we get deeper and deeper and every team is so good — every athlete’s so good,” Elam said. “It’s great when you can score that early in a game and then just try to continue that as the game goes on.”

Elam’s blast was well more than Hope Trautwein needed.

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The super senior who transferred from North Texas in the offseason has been dominant all season but was coming off an uncharacteristic rough appearance in last Saturday’s Bedlam finale where she walked four consecutive hitters to surrender her first earned run since Feb. 25.

But the control problems that plagued that appearance weren’t evident Friday, as she struck out seven of the first eight batters she faced, finishing with a season-high 14 strikeouts, allowing two hits and walking just one in the complete-game victory.

Trautwein said she had a “breakthrough” during the week as she worked to get refocused heading into the postseason.

“We worked a lot on mentality and just playing free, what that means to me and my definition of playing free, and how I process and how I process my routine,” Trautwein said.

“Working on that and getting that solid going into postseason, that’s so important for a pitcher, because pitchers are kind of a little bit of a mental game so being able to establish my process and execute it when I needed to, it was something that we really worked on this week.”

Trautwein improved to 16-0 and dropped her ERA to a nation-best 0.16 with her eighth complete game of the season.

“To see her come back in and throw the way she did was fantastic,” Sooners coach Patty Gasso said. “And we fed off that.”

No Cyclones hitter advanced past first base.

The Sooners (49-1) will take on second-seeded Oklahoma State, a 6-1 winner over Texas, in Saturday’s championship game at 2 p.m.

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OU swept the Cowgirls last weekend, outscoring OSU 18-4. The Sooners knocked off the Cowgirls 10-2 in six innings to win last season’s Big 12 Tournament.

Since dropping the series finale at Texas on April 16 for its lone loss of the regular season, OU has won 11 consecutive games.

Jocelyn Alo got things going in the first with a single off the left-field wall. Alo appeared headed to second but tripped rounding the base so returned to first.

Tiare Jennings followed with a single and then one out later, Alyssa Brito drew a walk to load the bases for Elam, who belted her 14th home run of the season on the 1-1 pitch.

It was Elam’s second career grand slam.

Rylie Boone drove in the Sooners’ only other run of the game on a second-inning single to score Kinzie Hansen.

Gasso wasn’t thrilled with the way the end of the game went offensively for her team after the Sooners’ last nine batters were retired.

“We just kind of gave away at-bats late in the game,” Gasso said. “Hope was … we wanted to kind of back her up with run support throughout the entire game — and that’s not discrediting the pitchers from Iowa State because the did a really nice job … but we needed to make better adjustments. Our body language looked like we were melting in the sun a little bit.”

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OU pitcher Hope Trautwein (7) celebrates after the first inning Friday in a 5-0 win against Iowa State in the Big 12 softball tournament semifinals at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.

Big 12 softball tournament schedule

Thursday’s games

Game 1: No. 4 Iowa State 2, No. 5 Baylor 1 (8 innings)

Game 2: No. 2 Oklahoma State 2, No. 7 Kansas 0

Game 3: No. 3 Texas 9, No. 6 Texas Tech 1 (5 innings)

Friday’s semifinals

Game 4: No. 1 Oklahoma 5, No. 4 Iowa State 0

Game 5: No. 2 Oklahoma State 6, No. 3 Texas 1

Saturday’s championship

Game 6: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Oklahoma State, 2 p.m. (ESPN2)

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OU softball: Sooners beat Iowa State in Big 12 tournament semifinal