OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s defense kept things tight until the Sooners’ prolific offense came to life late Thursday night with two game-changing home runs to beat rival Texas 10-5 and win its second straight national championship.
The Sooners have now won six Women’s College World Series under head coach Patty Gasso, including four of the last seven. The 2020 postseason has been canceled due to COVID-19.
Oklahoma set a record 17 home runs during the WCWS, breaking its own mark of 15 from last season. It also set a record for total runs scored during the WCWS at 64.
Even before the confetti was shot into the night sky to celebrate the win, the question was: Was this the best softball team ever? The roster led the country in batting averages, home runs and ERA. It only lost three games.
While her teammates declined to participate in the debate, Oklahoma hitter Jocelyn Alo was happy to give her opinion.
“I would say since I’m a senior,” she said, “I think that’s the best team.”
Gasso said the answer is best left to others who want to break down the stats, but she coughed up an opinion anyway.
“I would rate them very, very highly, if not highest,” she said, “because everything they do looks so easy to me and they do it so quickly.”
That’s how it played out in the deciding game against Texas, who went 2-0 up in the first inning and kept Oklahoma scoreless until the fourth inning when the hits started in bunches.
Oklahoma midfielder Jayda Coleman helped keep the score early when she reached over the fence and returned a potential two-run homer on top of the first. Not to be outdone, Sooners shortstop Grace Lyons later had her own brilliant moment on the field when she plucked a ground ball deep into the hole to her right, dropped to one knee and flicked it to second base, where Tiare Jennings hit the pocket tapped and threw to complete the doubles play first.
Then, after scraping together two runs and tying the game in the fourth, the Oklahoma bats finally came to life. A double by Alyssa Brito on the left field line gave the Sooners a one-run lead. Four pitches later, Kinzie Hansen homed three runs over the left field fence to open the game. It was Hansen’s first home run since April 16.
After a sacrificial fly from Jennings at the top of sixth, Lyons hit a three-run homer to extend the lead to eight.
“Our pitch with Jordy [Bahl] persevered but the defense kept giving us that momentum until we found a way to get on the board,” Gasso said. “Once we did that, it started to open up. Just timely banging, clutch banging when we needed it.
Alo, the all-time leader in career home runs, had a rare night when she didn’t send a ball over the fence or run in a single run.
During a 16-1 blowout in Game 1 of the championship series, Alo hit two home runs to bring her WCWS total to five.
Alo, who is five years older, will play professionally but hasn’t said if that will be in the Women’s Professional Fastpitch League or at Athletes Unlimited, where she was drafted No. 1 overall in May.
She ended her final season with a .515 batting average, 34 homers and 85 RBIs.
“Man, she loves the Sooners,” Gasso said of Alo. “She loves the state. She loves everything about OU, and she just wanted to give everything she had to the OU fandom. She left it. She left it in that field, and she left it in the history books forever.”