Oklahoma breaks open tight game vs. Texas, rolls to another NCAA softball title at WCWS

Brian Davis
Austin American-Statesman
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OKLAHOMA CITY — Texas needed to play carefree and loose in Game 2 of the Women’s College World Series, and that’s exactly what the Longhorns did.

The Horns led fans in “Texas Fight” chants, took an early lead with aggressive at-bats and Estelle Czech maneuvered around some defensive miscues.

But the Oklahoma softball machine simply couldn’t be denied.

The Sooners smashed their way to a 10-5 come-from-behind victory and clinched the program’s sixth national title at the Women’s College World Series. OU has now won four NCAA championships in the last six seasons, all of them coming at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium about a half-hour from the Norman campus.

Make no mistake, OU has built itself a college softball dynasty. This year’s OU squad finished the season 59-3.

After Texas got blasted 16-1 in Game 1, UT catcher Mary Iakopo said the Horns had to “play carefree and loose. And that’s all we can do.” But she acknowledged the top-ranked Sooners were “really freakin’ good.”

Texas' Alyssa Washington (11) and Janae Jefferson (2) celebrate after Texas scored a run in the first inning of the second game of the championship series in the Women's College World Series between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Texas Longhorns at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Thursday, June 9, 2022.

The Horns were the designated home team, so the Sooners got first crack. Immediately, Texas found itself in the same position as Wednesday’s Game 1. OU’s Jayda Coleman had a leadoff hit, and Jocelyn Alo came to bat eager to make a big statement.

More:No matter who starts, Texas pitchers have more to worry about than OU’s Jocelyn Alo at WCWS

This time, Czech kept the ball down and away and worked a full count. Alo froze on a 3-2 pitch that brushed the corner for a huge strikeout. No massive, first-inning home run blast this time. Czech would get out of the inning, and the Horns were off and running.

Texas took the lead in the bottom of the first with back-to-back sacrifice fly balls to the warning track. Courtney Day, a clutch home run hitter herself, smashed a ball high into the Oklahoma City night. This thing was destined for the bleachers.

But Coleman went high up against the six-foot wall and made a sensational home-run robbing catch. This was highlight-reel material, too. A considerable OU crowd of 12,257 just went bonkers. It robbed Day of a potential two-run shot that could’ve given the Horns a 4-0 lead. 

OU's Jayda Coleman (24) leaps over the wall to make a catch for an out in the first inning of a 10-5 win against Texas on Thursday in Game 2 of the WCWS finals.

Instead, Texas had a lead half that size and had to go to work.

Czech’s defense hurt as much as it helped. Errant throws by Janae Jefferson and Mia Scott were offset by double plays in the third and fourth inning. But OU was able to squeeze out two unearned runs in the fourth that tied things up.

Then in the fifth, the dam broke. Alyssa Brito smashed a RBI double down the left field line, and the Sooners had their first lead of the night. Kinzie Hansen followed with a three-run blast to left field, and OU was up 6-2.

Czech gave up a single to the next batter, and UT coach Mike White had seen enough. Czech left the game having allowed four earned runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Texas' Estelle Czech (22) celebrates after a double play in the second game of the championship series in the Women's College World Series between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Texas Longhorns at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Thursday, June 9, 2022.

Grace Lyons’ three-run blast in the sixth inning gave the Sooners a 10-2 lead and the coronation was underway.

In the bottom of the seventh, Oklahoma tried to finagle a rousing send-off for their seniors, including Alo. But UT's Mia Scott got in one final shot with a three-run blast that cut the final deficit down a few notches. 

Still, the WCWS championship series outcome did not diminish the fact Texas had a heck of a postseason run.

The Horns became the first unseeded team in NCAA history to reach the WCWS championship series. Only true believers gave Texas a chance to reach Oklahoma City, much less reach the championship game.

Texas finished the season 47-22-1 and rebranded itself as a major threat going forward.

It’s just unfortunate for UT that Oklahoma, a tank, is standing in everyone’s way.

Contact Brian Davis by phone or text at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com or follow on Twitter via @BDavisAAS.

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