Navigating OU’s lineup is like planning the 1927 New York Yankees for opposing pitchers.
“It’s Murderer’s Row,” Texas coach Mike White said, referring to the legendary lineup that centered on Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig after the Sooners defeated his team 7th in the Women’s College World Series winners’ round in the United States on Saturday :2 had defeated Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.
Pitchers can thrive against them, and Longhorns ace Hailey Dolcini did so for a time Saturday, retiring nine straight hitters.
But that success is hard to sustain, and OU’s record-breaking cast, starring Jocelyn Alo and Tiare Jennings, is sure to catch on.
On Saturday, Alo’s first inning and two home runs got the Sooners going, and then, after a little offensive snooze, the Sooners aligned with Dolcini and beat Texas to progress within a game of the championship series.
Carlson:Jocelyn Alo decided that Texas OU would not close again. She did something about it in WCWS.
OU (56-2) advances to Monday’s 11 a.m. semifinals where they will take on the winner of Sunday’s matchup between UCLA and the loser of Saturday’s late game between Oklahoma State and Florida.
Texas (44-20-1) meets Arizona in an elimination game at 6:00 p.m. Sunday.
In both of the Sooners’ WCWS games, junior outfielder Rylie Boone signaled the Sooners’ change in approach.
In Thursday’s 13-2 win over Northwestern, it was Boone’s double in the third inning that showed how the Sooners had adjusted to the move from Wildcats pitcher Danielle Williams.
It wasn’t until the fifth inning this time before Boone again highlighted a shift.
The Owasso product laid down a colorful single on the first pitch of the inning and jumped with excitement as she safely crossed base just before the toss.
Jana Johns, OU’s No. 9 hitter, followed with a sacrificial bunt on the first pitch before Coleman – again on the first pitch – drove a double into the right midfield gap to hit Boone and put the Sooners to 3. 1.
Alo was also aggressive in attacking Dolcini, fouling three consecutive pitches before driving in another run with a single down the middle and knocking Dolcini out of the game.
Jennings then greeted Sophia Simpson with a two-run homer deep in the left stand to extend OU’s lead to 6-1.
More:How OU Softball’s Rylie Boone had her breakout game of a breakout season in the WCWS
Sooners coach Patty Gasso hasn’t shied away from shifting her lineup.
OU haven’t used the same batting order in more than two games this season.
The lineup Gasso topped Saturday was the Sooners’ 51st in 58 games this season.
“It’s like the series is changing,” White said, alluding to his earlier comments on Murderer’s Row.
However, the top three were fairly consistent for much of the latter part of the season – Jayda Coleman leading, followed by Alo and Jennings.
On Saturday, the trio went 7-for-11 together with six RBIs and five runs scored. Another Sooners run was scored by Hannah Coor as a pinch runner for Alo.
Coleman said the biggest adjustment wasn’t Dolcini, it was internal.
“I think it was more of a mental thing, just knowing individually what it’s going to be like,” said Coleman. “And it worked.”
The inning before the Sooners broke it up, they finally set up base runners against Dolcini before failing to score as Texas retained a 2-1 lead from OU.
“We were spot on,” said Alo. “So by the fifth we knew it was coming. It was just that we trusted ourselves and stuck to our plan.”
The four runs the Sooners hit in the fifth was more than enough for OU starter Hope Trautwein, who allowed a run in the first and then a solo homer with an out in the seventh. But she controlled the game for the most part, improving to 20-1 with the complete game win.
Tramel’s Scissor Tales:Big 12 Softball needs to crack the RPI code for the NCAA tournament