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Topic: The Joy of the Journey

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CWSooner

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The Joy of the Journey
« on: May 17, 2019, 07:26:45 PM »
Patty Gasso is on her way to being the greatest-ever coach at OU, in any sport.  OU dominates college gymnastics, both men's and women's.  But not many schools compete in top-level gymnastics.  A lot of schools compete in softball.  And Patty has the best program in the country.  And it's a joyful program full of feel-good stories.

It's all about joy of the journey for Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso, Sooners 
By Clay Horning | Senior Sports Columnist
The Norman Transcript

It was eight years ago and it was an education. Or so, perhaps, I thought.

Oklahoma, having gone six seasons without returning to the Women’s College World Series, finally made it back, riding both the bat and left arm of sophomore pitcher Keilani Ricketts. It was where those Sooners ventured to advance that made it so impressive.

Tucson.

Ricketts hit a home run in each game and didn’t give up a run in the circle until surrendering two in seventh inning of the second game. Yet, before Arizona's Lini Koria unleashed her two-run shot, OU already led 5-0.

More memorable to me, however, than the Sooners finally returning to Hall of Fame Stadium — and forcing Arizona to miss it for just the second time in 24 seasons — was how poorly Arizona coach Mike Candrea took it.

He accused his team of carrying “dead weight.” He took no solace in having reached Oklahoma City so many previous seasons and in winning the whole thing eight times.

The impression left?

That's what it takes to attain meteoric success. It takes being miserably insufferable every time you don’t.

I decided it was a world known only to Pat Summit, Geno Auriemma and Mike Candrea and what it took to enjoy — or stomach — that kind of long-term uber-dominance must be the utter non-acceptance of anything less.

It all made sense.

It was also wrong.

• • •

These days, there is one softball coach in America enjoying the kind of success Candrea once enjoyed.

Patty Gasso.

Since that 2011 season her Sooners bounced the Wildcats and returned to World Series, OU has missed it just once, in 2015.

Over that span, Gasso has coached OU to four best-two-of-three WCWS championship series and three national championships in 2013, 2016 and 2017.

And, right now, having lost two games all season and having posted an NCAA record 39 straight wins, the Sooners enter NCAA regional play Friday as the No. 1 seed in the entire national draw.

Also, guess what?

Gasso, nor her team, suffer for their success. For the Sooners, it’s about the joy.

Of course, Gasso's all about winning, too, just look at her record.

Nonetheless, the ultimate success OU has enjoyed three times the last six seasons, and the rest of the Sooners’ success — 12 WCWS trips in 19 seasons, countless Big 12 championships — has been more incidental to what Gasso’s program’s about than it's been specific.

Just ask her players.

“She talks a lot about having joy in the journey and just being free to play and free to have fun and just having the freedom to be able to say what you want and being yourself on the field and getting out of your comfort zone,” said Sydney Romero, who’s enjoyed that freedom all the way to .427 batting average, 17 home runs and an .848 slugging percentage this season. “She just makes it real easy to be comfortable out here on the field with every one.”

Jocelyn Alo, last year’s freshman phenom, who came back from early season plate struggles to hit .400, bash 14 more home runs and lead OU with a .500 on-base percentage, went a different direction, yet still one that underlined her coach’s humanity rather than her iron will.

“She’s kind of like our mom on the field,” she said. “She really makes sure that we’re good, more off the field as a person than as a player.

“As a coach, she’s obviously going to push us to be the best that we can, and she’s helped me come very far.”

Sophomore catcher Lynnsie Elam, an in-state product from Chickasha, took the question and ran with it and, just maybe, offered the best endorsement of Gasso's coaching philosophy and style.

“She always reminds us that we are people. We are not only players, but we are people. We are more than what we do out there in the dirt,” she said. “So, if we’re having issues at home, she is asking us before practice, ‘Hey, is everything OK? Do you need me for anything? What can I do?’ Not, ‘Hey, you’re not hitting on the field, you need to be better.’

“So that’s something, to me personally, with my situation, that has made me feel like, ‘OK, it doesn’t matter what I do out there, she’s going to love me either way. She’s going to do what she can for me to help me as a person either way.”

• • •

It's refreshing, it's right, it's the kind of thing that puts the fans on your side without reservation and it’s the kind of approach that brings more fans on board.

Who wouldn’t want to play for a coach like that is a self-answering question. And, given that sellouts have become the norm in the seats and bleachers surrounding Marita Hynes Field, who wouldn’t want to cheer for a team playing for a coach like that appears to be a self-answering one, too.

Perhaps I was too hard on Candrea in the opening. I mean, the guy’s a legend, no question.

Also, despite six more super regionals, he hasn’t been back to the World Series since that 2011 loss. Perhaps now, he takes some solace in past success. Or, maybe, come the final step of the process to return to the sport’s biggest stage, his team’s had enough, and stops there.

It’s unknowable.

What’s knowable is that, should the Sooners fail to get back to Oklahoma City this time, or next time, or the time after that, it will be disappointing to players, coaches and fans, but it will not negate the journey.

Would you believe when Elam offered that long fantastic quote about her coach, she wasn’t even finished.

I cut her off.

Here’s the rest.

“She’s always preaching to us, have joy in this journey, every season is going to be different,” she said, “every year is going to be different, everybody doesn’t get to do this.”

Funny thing, but when you love your journey, you don’t want it to end.

Eventually, probably, it will end early again for Gasso and the Sooners. However, probably not this season, the next one or the one after that.

“She’s an awesome lady,” Alo said.

Pretty good coach, too.

https://www.normantranscript.com/sports/all_ou_sports/horning-it-s-all-about-joy-of-the-tourney-for/article_171f6f4a-ba02-50a5-b5b1-cad5f6265fee.html
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Thumper

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Re: The Joy of the Journey
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2019, 10:06:17 PM »
I started watching women's softball in 2011 to see Keilani Ricketts.  I was struck by how much fun they (Sooners and opponents) seemed to be having.  They played hard but they were dancing and cheering in the dugout.  To me, they were the essence of amateur sport.

This play earlier this season is a great example.  Just check out the look on her face.


https://twitter.com/i/status/1119258305673740288

FearlessF

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Re: The Joy of the Journey
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2019, 08:20:59 AM »
nice work

I enjoy women's softball
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CWSooner

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Re: The Joy of the Journey
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2019, 10:40:31 AM »
Three Sooner pitchers combined for a perfect game, five-inning, 12-strikeouts, run-rule, 12-0 victory over UM-Baltimore County last night.

UMBC is not a great team.  But they beat a top seed in a regional last year.
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Thumper

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Re: The Joy of the Journey
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2019, 08:53:13 PM »
The Sooners had their hands full today.  Wiscy came from one run down to win 2-1, snapping the Sooner's 41 game win streak and handing Juarez her only loss this year.
In the elimination game, the Sooners won 2-0 behind Juarez's shutout.  Wiscy's pitcher who really silenced the Sooner's #1 offense threw something like 400 pitches this weekend.

CWSooner

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Re: The Joy of the Journey
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2019, 01:15:11 PM »
In between the run-rule perfect game on Thursday and the 2-1 loss to Wisconsin in the first game Saturday was a complete-game no-hitter by Giselle Juarez in a 4-0 victory over Wisconsin on Friday.

I understand those are the only two no-hitters by Sooner pitchers in NCAA tournament play.

The Sooners host Northwestern in the Norman Super-Regional this weekend.
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CWSooner

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Re: The Joy of the Journey
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2019, 08:55:34 PM »
OU advances to the WCWS with an 8-0 win over Northwestern.

OSU eliminated defending champ FSU and will also move on to OKC.

I was sorry to see UT lose to Bama today.  Shaky fielding was the culprit, it seemed to me.  Gritty comeback after being down 7-1, but that defense repeatedly let the team down.
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CWSooner

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Re: The Joy of the Journey
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2019, 01:29:38 PM »
Mariah Lopez shows that Sooners are deep in not just talent, but spirit
by BERRY TRAMEL
Published: Sun, May 26, 2019 1:06 AM Updated: Sun, May 26, 2019 1:32 AM


Oklahoma's Mariah Lopez (42) reacts after a double play in the third inning of an 8-0 win against Northwestern in a decisive Game 2 of an NCAA super regional Saturday in Norman. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

NORMAN — Mariah Lopez struck out Kenna Wilkey in the fifth inning, and The Sign Guy sprang into action.
Mike Kertok of Norman is one of the OU softball fans who keeps the spirit bubbling at Marita Hynes Field. Saturday, he was in the rotation of four fans who stood to their feet and sent their vocal chords into overdrive with yells of “Boomer!...”


Soon enough, Kertok’s lungs let him know he was done for the day, so he resorted to visual communication. After Lopez’s final pitch of what eventually became an 8-0 rout of Northwestern that put the Sooners in the Women’s College World Series for the fourth straight season, Kertok grabbed his Lopez sign and held it aloft.

“MARIAH IS ON FIAH.”

Well, the same could be said of the whole danged Sooner squad. Five OU starters — Sydney Romero, Caleigh Clifton, Jocelyn Alo, Grace Green and Lynnsie Elam — hit home runs, and Lopez and Shannon Saile combined on a two-hit shutout. But does any Sooner deserve another World Series trip, or an NCAA championship, more than does Lopez?

The junior from the Los Angeles suburb of Saugus was in line to be the ace of a juggernaut team. Then all-American Giselle Juarez transferred from Arizona State in January, and suddenly Lopez’s turn in the spotlight was limited.
Lopez was OU’s No. 3 pitcher each of the last two years, behind Paige Parker and Paige Lowary. No one could blame Lopez for thinking she would be Next Paige in 2019. Then here came Juarez.

But instead of chemistry imploding, it was enhanced. Juarez became the No. 1 starter, but from all testimony, Lopez didn’t gripe or whine. She went from 21 starts in 2017 to 18 starts in 2018 to just 20 starts this season going into Game 2 of the NCAA super regional. But with Juarez and Florida International transfer Shannon Saile, Lopez formed not just a great pitching staff, but an exemplary sorority.

“There’s so much to say about the way these three particular pitchers have created this little sisterhood,” OU coach Patty Gasso said. “There’s no jealousy. No envy. They surrender their egohood. There’s a lot of pitchers who would not surrender their egohood.”

Senior second baseman Caleigh Clifton said it best: “Iron sharpens iron. Giselle comes in, she’s really great. Mariah’s already great. They work really well together.”

After Juarez shut out Northwestern 3-0 Friday, Gasso handed the ball to Lopez for Game 2. She pitched 4 ⅔ innings, never allowed a Wildcat to reach second base and departed with a 6-0 lead so that Saile could get some work.

“We’re really invested in one another,” Lopez said. “Regardless of who’s out there, we’re in it.”

Thus the 54-3 Sooners move on to Oklahoma City for the World Series, which starts Thursday at the USA Hall of Fame.

Northwestern coach Kate Drohan said the Sooners are the No. 1 seed “because they’re so deep. Offensively, even their pinch-hitters are tough. All three pitchers are tough. That to me is why they stand out so much this year.”
Drohan meant deep as in the talent of the roster. But these Sooners are deep in spirit, too. Mariah Lopez shows that.
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utee94

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Re: The Joy of the Journey
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2019, 03:15:33 PM »
Journey?  I like Journey!

"Don't Stop Believin" is probably their signature song and is most certainly their most recognizable, but I'm an even bigger fan of either their older stuff like "Wheel In The Sky" or their very last releases like "Ask The Lonely" and "Only The Young."


FearlessF

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Re: The Joy of the Journey
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2019, 03:43:34 PM »
I'm not a fan of Journey.

But, they were VERY popular for a while, so to each their own
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CWSooner

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Re: The Joy of the Journey
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2019, 11:58:50 PM »
OSU upset Florida 2-1 today, and OU just wrapped up a nail-biter 3-2 win over Bama.

It will be a Bedlam rematch tomorrow in the nightcap.

In the other games today, Arizona upset Washington 3-1 and UCLA beat Minnesota 7-1.

Only winners play tomorrow.  The early (7:30, IIRC) game is Arizona and UCLA.

Today's losers have to start the uphill climb on Saturday.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2019, 12:12:57 AM by CWSooner »
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CWSooner

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Re: The Joy of the Journey
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2019, 09:23:12 AM »
Sooners earn hard-fought win over Alabama, set up Bedlam matchup
By Eric Bailey Tulsa World 7 hrs ago
WCWS OU ALABAMA

Oklahoma pitcher Giselle Juarez and third baseman Sydney Romero (right) celebrate after an out against Alabama in the Women’s College World Series on Thursday in Oklahoma City. Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman BRYAN TERRY
OKLAHOMA CITY — Bedlam anyone?
Oklahoma City will be the site of a rivalry showdown between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
The stakes are high, with one school taking a large step toward the goal of claiming the Women’s College World Series championship.
The Bedlam storyline was a main topic of conversation just moments after the Sooners defeated Alabama 3-2 Thursday in the late game.
“OSU is a great team and I just think the cool thing about it is you have two Oklahoma teams playing in the World Series,” Sydney Romero said. “Just the fact that both of these teams are from Oklahoma, I think it says a lot of stuff. It’s awesome.
“We know it’s going to be a good game. OSU is a great team. We’re excited.”
Nicole Mendes was OU’s hero Thursday night. With the game tied at 2, the junior hit an RBI triple off the outfield wall. It was just inches from clearing the fence, and scored pinch runner Raegan Rogers from first base.
It’s not uncommon to see Mendes with big hits in this stadium.
In 2017, Mendes hit home runs in both games against Florida in the WCWS championship series to earn all-tournament honors. Two years later, she added to her career highlights with her game-changing triple.
“I like to compete and this is where the biggest teams come to compete,” Mendes said. “I don’t know, it just brings something out of me and I just get excited and really amped up.”
Added coach Patty Gasso: “She shines on this platform. She finds a way. It may not look good, but she’s going to do something that’s going to be a game-changer. And she did.”
OU (55-3) enjoyed a one-run lead twice, only to see the Crimson Tide scrape back to tie the game.
The Sooners struck quickly in front of a crowd of 9,290. After Romero and Falepolima Aviu singled, Caleigh Clifton lofted a sacrifice fly to center field for a 1-0 lead.
Alabama evened things up in the third against OU starter Giselle Juarez (27-1).
The Crimson Tide worked Claire Jenkins – who hit a leadoff single – around the bases. Bailey Hemphill hit a bloop RBI single to tie the game at 1.
OU jumped ahead 2-1 in the fourth when Romero hit a triple off the right-field wall and scored on Jocelyn Alo’s two-out single up the middle on a 3-2 pitch from Alabama’s Montana Fouts (19-6).
Alabama knotted the game again when Jenkins hit a solo home run in the fifth. It was the first homer allowed by Juarez since April 26 at Iowa State.
She dealt with it calmly.
“Just letting it go, just not letting it affect our game, moving forward,” Juarez said. “Moving on to the next pitch.”
Alabama (57-9) did not manage a hit off Juarez from that point. The OU left-hander pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning, punctuated by striking out pinch-hitter Caroline Hardy to end things.
“I don’t think it was one of (Juarez’s) best games because she was falling behind a little bit,” Gasso said. “You could feel that in her. … She fought through it. The team kept saying, ‘We got you.’ ”
Juarez allowed four hits and struck out nine.
Many eyes will be on Bedlam on Friday night. For Gasso, it is being treated like just another game in the postseason journey. If not OSU, the coach said, the Sooners would have had a matchup against Florida that would have also presented storylines.
“I know everybody wants to see (Bedlam),” Gasso said. “We just want to find ways to win. We want to get ourselves to the place where we’re playing on Sunday and not playing all day. That’s the important thing. That’s what we’ve got to focus on, not get caught up in the hype.
“I’m sure they feel the same way. It’s a big game for tomorrow night. It puts someone in a good driver’s seat. That’s what we’re going to focus on.”
OKLAHOMA 3, ALABAMA 2
Alabama 001 010 0 -- 2 4 0
Oklahoma 101 001 x -- 3 6 1
Fouts and Dykes; Juarez and Elam. W: Juarez (27-1). L: Fouts (19-6). HR: Bama, Jenkins (13).

Eric Bailey
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CWSooner

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Re: The Joy of the Journey
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2019, 09:25:47 AM »
Oklahoma State - behind the 'Sam Show' - opens with victory over Florida
By Eric Bailey Tulsa World  7 hrs ago

OKLAHOMA CITY — The bat flip was amazing. The pitching performance was incredible.

Ladies and gentlemen, it was Showtime in Oklahoma City on Thursday night.

Samantha Show hit two solo home runs and pitched a complete game in Oklahoma State’s 2-1 victory over Florida in the opening round of the Women’s College World Series at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.

The Cowgirls (45-15) recorded their first WCWS victory since 1998 and await the winner of Thursday’s late game between Oklahoma and Alabama in a winners bracket game at 8:30 p.m. Friday.

Show’s sixth-inning blast to straightaway center field sent OSU fans into a frenzy. She punctuated the shot by slamming her bat into the ground, and her weapon of choice did cartwheels toward the Cowgirls’ dugout.

She smiled when asked if the celebration was premeditated. After all, she has become known for flair after hitting a home run.

“Anything that happens after a home run of mine, I don’t plan out,” Show said. “Just whatever emotion I have inside me. Normally I have so much, that’s why the dramatic bat flips happen because it just needs to come out. I’m very emotional.”

Fans were just getting settled into their seats in the first inning when the OSU senior made her presence felt as she hit Florida ace Kelly Barnhill’s 0-2 pitch into the right-field seats.

Her second home run will be remembered for years in Cowgirls lore as she became the first pitcher in WCWS history to hit two homers in a game.

“When she hit the second one, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t thinking home run. I just wanted a good at-bat,” OSU coach Kenny Gajewski said. “Right when it left her bat, I just felt the crowd, it went through me. I mean, it was crazy. Kind of a surreal experience.

“But it was big. Those are big. I think those were our only two hits. I don’t know that we hit another ball hard. It was a Sam Show day.”

Show (22-8) allowed six hits, struck out two and walked none. She retired nine in a row in the middle of the game and battled when the Gators’ first two batters got on base in the seventh inning.

Even in that late-game moment, she was poised.

“I knew that if I worked ahead and threw some quality pitches, my defense would make the plays for me. It’s exactly what they did (with) some really good plays made behind me,” Show said. “Never in my mind did I think we were out of it. They had runners in scoring position, but I knew even if they did score, it wouldn’t be over. We would go back, have good at-bats, hopefully score again.

“But there were no doubts in my mind.”

Florida coach Tim Walton faced Show when she played for Texas A&M. The Gators had success against her last season. This was different.

“I don’t think she’s a different pitcher. I think she’s a whole entirely different person,” Walton said. “You look at everything about her. It’s different, better in every sense of the word. She’s just done a good job all the way around. It almost looks like she’s completely comfortable in who she is right now, competing both offensively and defensively.”

Florida scored its only run in the second inning. Jordan Roberts launched a solo home run to the exact spot when Show’s first homer landed in right field.

Show was 2-for-3. The rest of the Cowgirls were 0-for-21 against Barnhill (34-13), who struck out nine and walked one.

After Show’s second homer, the Cowgirls fought to get the final six outs to secure the victory.

“It’s a big deal for us. We can finally just kind of relax and not have to worry about pushing that first win,” OSU’s Madi Sue Montgomery said. “I think we came out pretty relaxed and normal — having fun, playing the game that we love. It’s nice to break down the next barrier. We just want to keep going. We’re not done.”

Several of the OSU players have gotten tattoos with the letters FTG (“for the girls”) to celebrate their camaraderie.

“It’s something we made a deal on: If we ever made it to the World Series, when we make it to the World Series, we’d all get it,” Michaela Richbourg said. “Some got it a week ago. Then we went and got it the other day.”

Is Gajewski going to do the same?

“Yes, I think I’m wrangled into the tattoo deal,” he said. “But it will be on my foot.”

OKLAHOMA STate 2, FLORIDA 1

OSU 100 001 0 — 2 2 2

Florida 010 000 0 — 1 6 0

Show and Thomas; Barnhill and Roberts. W: Show (22-8). L: Barnhill (34-12). HR: OSU, Show 2 (20); UF, Roberts (9).

Eric Bailey
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CWSooner

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Re: The Joy of the Journey
« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2019, 09:59:02 AM »
Sooners defeat Cowgirls in Bedlam softball matchup 6-1
By John Shinn For the Tulsa World

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Bedlam softball rivalry reached the biggest stage Friday night at the Women’s College World Series. The overflow crowd of 9,820 at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium got to see Oklahoma and Oklahoma State meet for the first time in the WCWS.

The Sooners rolled to a 6-1 victory, their 24th in a row over the Cowgirls since 2011.

OU plays at 2:30 p.m. Sunday against an opponent to be determined Saturday. The Sooners one more victory to reach the championship series for the fifth time in eight seasons and keep their hopes alive for their third national championship in four years.

OSU’s fight through the losers bracket begins against Washington (50-8) or Minnesota (46-13) at 6 p.m. Saturday in an elimination game. The Huskies and Gophers meet at 11 a.m. with the winner advancing to face the Cowgirls.

The Sooners (56-3) jumped on OSU ace Samantha Show ["Show" rhymes with "cow."] in the top of the first inning. Jocelyn Alo laced a two-run single and Shay Knighten singled to score Grace Green before OSU (45-16) even got in the batter’s box.

Show has been on an epic tear since the NCAA Tournament began and that continued in the 2-1 victory over Florida on Thursday, when she homered twice and dominated in the circle in opening victory.

The Ruthian-like run came to a halt Friday. Show lasted four innings, giving up three runs on six hits, walking one and striking out two. At the plate, Show went 0-for-3 and struck out twice.

OU pitcher Giselle Juarez struck out 11 over six innings.. She gave up an RBI single to Michaela Richbourg in the bottom of the first inning to put OSU to within 3-1, but even a two-run deficit can seem insurmountable against the Sooners. Heading into the game, the Sooners hadn’t allowed more than two runs since an 8-3 victory at Iowa State on April 26.

OU added three more runs in the sixth. OSU reliever Logan Simunek walked OU’s Falepolima Aviu and Alo with the bases loaded and hit Caliegh Clifton to bring in another run.

OKLAHOMA 6, OKLAHOMA STate 1

Oklahoma 300 003 0 — 6 8 0

Oklahoma St. 100 000 0 — 1 4 0

Juarez and Elam; Show and Thomas; Show, Simunek (5), Clakley (6) and Thomas. W: Juarez (28-1). L: Show (22-9).

WCWS scoreboard

USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium, Oklahoma City

Thursday

Game 1: No. 6 Arizona 3, No. 3 Washington 1 (8 inn.)

Game 2: No. 2 UCLA 7, No. 7 Minnesota 2

Game 3: No. 13 Oklahoma State 2, No. 5 Florida 1

Game 4: No. 1 Oklahoma 3, No. 8 Alabama 2

Friday

Game 5: UCLA 6, Arizona 2

Game 6: Oklahoma 6, Oklahoma State 1

Saturday

Game 7: Washington vs. Minnesota, 11 a.m., ESPN

Game 8: Florida vs. Alabama, 1:30 p.m., ESPN

Game 9: Game 7 winner vs. Oklahoma State, 6 p.m., ESPN

Game 10: Game 8 winner vs. Arizona, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Sunday

Game 11: UCLA vs. Game 9 winner, noon, ESPN

Game 12: Oklahoma vs. Game 10 winner, 2:30 p.m., ESPN

Game 13 (if necessary): Game 11 teams, 6 p.m., ESPN2

Game 14 (if necessary): Game 12 teams, 8:30 p.m., ESPN2

Championship Finals

Best-of-3

Game 1: 6:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN

Game 2: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN

Game 3: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, ESPN
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