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Morning Roundup: Howard, Loyd lift defending champ Storm past Mercury 77-68

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Seattle Storm's Shavonte Zellous, top, scrambles for the ball with Phoenix Mercury's Arica Carter during Saturday's game in Everett, Wash. [Olivia Vanni/The Herald via AP]
Seattle Storm's Shavonte Zellous, top, scrambles for the ball with Phoenix Mercury's Arica Carter during Saturday's game in Everett, Wash. [Olivia Vanni/The Herald via AP]

Natasha Howard had 21 points and 16 rebounds, Jewell Loyd added 17 points and the Seattle Storm opened defensive of their WNBA title with a 77-68 win over the Phoenix Mercury on Saturday in Everett, Washington.

Beginning a season where they will play without reigning league MVP Breanna Stewart for the entire season and 11-time All-Star Sue Bird for a significant portion, the Storm rallied from an 11-point first half deficit to make sure celebrating last year's title was capped with a victory.

OCU wins, USAO loses at NAIA Softball World Series

Jaden Shores tossed a one-hitter, leading Oklahoma City University to a 3-0 win over Marian (Indiana) on Saturday at the NAIA Softball World Series in Springfield, Missouri.

OCU (59-6) is scheduled to face Southern Oregon (50-7) on Monday. The winner will advance to the championship game.

Southern Oregon beat USAO 4-0 Saturday. USAO will play Lindsey Wilson (Kentucky) on Monday in the loser's bracket.

Seminole State eliminated from NJCAA softball tournament

The College of Central Florida eliminated Seminole State from the NJCAA softball tournament with a 12-3 win Friday night in St. George, Utah.

Seminole State, which went on a 48-game winning streak this season, finished with an overall record of 54-4.

OU's Essence Thomas advances to NCAA Outdoor Championships

Oklahoma's Essence Thomas recorded a personal record 42-11.5 (13.09 m) in the triple jump Saturday at the NCAA West Preliminary Round in Sacramento, California, clinching a spot in the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

The championships will be held June 5-8 in Austin, Texas.

Late Friday: New Orleans tops OKC 4-1

Isan Diaz hit a two-run home run and had two hits, and Zac Gallen allowed just four hits over seven innings as the New Orleans Baby Cakes defeated the Oklahoma City Dodgers 4-1 in the series finale on Friday in Metairie, Louisiana.

With the victory, New Orleans took the series 3-1.

Gallen (6-1) picked up the win after he struck out six and walked one while allowing one run. Justin De Fratus (0-2) went seven innings, allowing four runs and seven hits while striking out six.

Staff and wire reports

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