OKLAHOMA CITY — The top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners softball team made it a three-peat, winning Game 2 of the 2023 Women’s College World Series Championship Series 3-1 over Florida State on Thursday night at Hall of Fame Stadium. OU shut out FSU 5-0 in Game 1 on Wednesday night.
With the win, OU ends the season 61-1 and riding a 53-game winning streak. The Sooners became just the second school ever to win three consecutive national titles (UCLA 1988-90).
In Game 1, patience was OU’s biggest virtue. Not even two lightning delays totaling 1:43 or uncharacteristically poor fielding, nor a slow start at the plate were enough to derail OU’s runaway train. A determined crowd of 12,142 sat through it all.
“It’s always really good to get that first win under your belt — really important,” OU coach Patty Gasso said afterward. “Our team was really focused for that. The rain situation and all of the lightning and so forth kind of put a wrench in it.
“It felt like a little bit of rushing. It was just uncharacteristic of what the beginning of a Championship Series would feel like. Watching all the fans go in and out, it was just … Some were not moving at all [smiling]. It’s a big moment. Everybody wants to see it.”
The game started 61 minutes late due to lightning in the area. Only nine minutes passed before the next delay, which lasted 42 minutes.
“I think we started off a little bit nervous,” Gasso said. “We had a little conversation as a group. They decided we need to be more like us and stop trying (so hard). We don’t try hard, we just play. We were trying hard. You can see the difference.”
OU’s bats also got off to a slow start as the Sooners didn’t collect their first hit until No. 9-hole hitter Rylie Boone hit a line-drive double to right-center. They collected eight more hits in the final three innings. Boone finished 2-for-3 with two doubles.
Lightning finally struck for the Sooners with a three-run fourth inning. A linedrive double to center from OU senior catcher Kinzie Hansen scored starting pitcher Jordy Bahl, who was pinchrunning for Haley Lee. The second run came on an RBI bloop single to right from third baseman Alyssa Brito to score Hansen. Brito, who went 2-for-2 with a run batted in, made it 3-0 when she scored on a bunt single from rightfielder Alynah Torres when a poor throw got away from the first baseman.
“Once they (OU players) got their feet on the ground, (they) just kind of took off, hit the ball hard — really started hitting the ball hard,” Gasso said. “(I’m) proud of how we turned that switch really quickly. Then, from that moment on, we just were back to our old selves.”
Hansen finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
“One thing about our offense is we embrace challenges,” Hansen said. “I know we work on a lot of things specifically at practice that we know we’re going to see in the game. Going into this game, we knew that they were going to try to take a different strategy possibly. We know there’s a bunch of different challenges that people might throw at us to catch us off guard. When that did happen, that did occur going into the second time through the line-up, it didn’t really faze us. We were kind of excited to see the challenge, excited to get a different look going into it.”
Fortunately for the Sooners, Bahl (22-1; 0.92 earned-run average) was her usual self. The sophomore righthander tossed a complete game two-hitter with 10 strikeouts on 97 pitches. Her lone walk came with two outs in the final inning.
“Jordy again was just absolutely exceptional,” Gasso said.
Through all the starts and stops, Bahl said she was confident her teammates eventually would find their stride.
“I always know the offense is going to get going,” Bahl said. “Especially this entire tournament, we’ve faced some really tough pitching, but I know they’re going to score runs. I just try to do my best to just throw a good game and let the defense work, know that the offense is going to come through.”
OU entered the game as the nation’s top fielding team with just 16 errors in 1,456 chances (.989). However, the Sooners committed lead-off errors in backto- back innings against the Seminoles (58-10).
Brito back-peddled on a ground ball in the third inning, and Bahl dropped the ball when she tried to tag out the batter on a slow roller down the first-base line to lead off the fourth.
FSU wound up stranding a runner at second in the third inning and runners at second and third in the fourth as Bahl worked out of both jams.
In addition to Jayda Coleman’s defensive gem, FSU had one of its own in the bottom of the sixth when leftfielder Kaley Mudge robbed Lee of a potential gameending three-run homer when she snared the ball with the top of her glove while reaching over the fence.
Without Mudge’s heroic effort, the game would have ended 8-0 in the sixth because the NCAA implemented the run rule into the Championship Series for the first time ever this season.
In the national-title clinching victory, OU super senior shortstop Grace Lyons, who hit a go-ahead solo home run in the fifth inning to give the Sooners a 2-1 lead, said, “Something we talked about early on in the fall is the expectations from the outside, of what people expect of us, what fans, even like opposition, what they make us see or think on social media.”
After falling behind 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth on a solo homer by FSU first baseman Mack Leonard, OU immediately responded the top of the next inning when its first two batters — sophomore first baseman Cydney Sanders and Lyons — each hit solo homers, marking the 11th time this season OU has hit back-toback home runs.
It was Sanders’ first home run since she hit dingers in three straight games at the NCAA Regional and Super Regional in Norman and Lyons’ first home run since May 19 in OU’s postseason opener against Hofstra.
Torres set the final margin in the sixth with a fielder’s choice to shortstop that scored Bahl, who was pinchrunning for Lee, who opened the inning with an infield single to shortstop.
Bahl, who was named the WCWS Most Outstanding Player, relieved starter Alex Storako in the fifth and retired all nine batters she faced. Storako (180; 1.15 ERA) got the victory while Bahl (0.90 ERA) earned her fourth save.