There will be a new softball national champion in 2014.
The No. 1 seed Oregon Ducks made a three-run third inning stand up to eliminate defending champion Oklahoma, 4-2, at the Women's College World Series.
The Sooners finished the season 51-13, but return all but three players next season. It most likely won't be long before the Sooners find themselves back at the Women's College World Series.
After starting pitcher Kelsey Stevens threw 129 pitches earlier in the day against Louisiana-Lafayette, Shelby Pendley started in the circle for the Sooners against the Ducks. Pendley was solid through the first two innings, but fell apart in the third inning.
After a hit batter and a walk, Janie Takeda hit an RBI double to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead. OU coach Patty Gasso brought Stevens into the game to limit the damage, but the first batter Stevens faced, Kailee Cuico, ripped a liner that bounced off shortstop Jessica Vest, allowing two runners to score and give Oregon a 3-0 lead.
The Sooners were stymied for much of the night by Oregon pitcher Cheridan Hawkins, but broke through in the fourth inning with a Vest RBI single. With runners on the corners, Whitney Ellis attempted a squeeze bunt, but whiffed. Erin Miller drifted too far down the third baseline on the play and was unable to make it safely back to the bag. Ellis grounded out to end what could have been a bigger inning for the Sooners.
Pendley hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to draw the Sooners within a single run, and Stevens did a marvelous job keeping the Ducks off the scoreboard.
In the seventh inning, Oregon was finally able to grab a bit of insurance, as Takeda looped a single over second base to score Nikki Udria and push the Oregon lead to 4-2.
The Sooners threatened one final time in the bottom of the frame, but Lauren Chamberlain struck out and Brittany Williams grounded out to end the game.
Sooners Stay Alive At WCWS With Win Over Ragin' Cajuns
Oklahoma lost a series on the road to Louisiana-Lafayette earlier this season, but the Sooners' win on Saturday was of much greater significance.
The Sooners staved off elimination and sent the Ragin' Cajuns packing with a 3-1 win on Elimination Saturday at the Women's College World Series.
Oklahoma didn't get a lot out of its offense against ULL, but it limited the Ragin' Cajuns from getting anything out if its high-powered attack. ULL came into the WCWS leading the field with 88 home runs this season, but managed just a single solo home run in the top of the seventh inning against OU starter Kelsey Stevens.
That's not to say the Ragin' Cajuns didn't have opportunities to score more runs. They had a plethora of opportunities, but were unable to cash in on any of them. ULL went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left a staggering 11 runners on base.
Stevens deserves a lot of credit for getting the Sooners out of those jams, even though she gave up three walks and two hit batters to contribute to ULL consistently having runners on base. Stevens gave up six hits and struck out seven batters, five of those coming after there were runners on base.
"I am so extremely proud of Kelsey Stevens and the fight she put in today to hold them to six hits," OU coach Patty Gasso said. "But more than anything, they left 11 runners on base. That means this one is finding ways to get out of innings. She had timely strikeouts. They had opportunities numerous times and I'm just really, really proud of the way Kelsey found a way to get out of it and the way the defense played behind her."
The only bad sign for the Sooners was that Steven received treatment in between innings late in the game on her pitching shoulder. Stevens threw 129 pitches against the Ragin' Cajuns and with the Sooners playing at 8:30 p.m. against Oregon Saturday night, the pitching situation is a bit precarious. Starting third baseman Shelby Pendley is the only other player the Sooners really have as far as pitchers go.
What offense the Sooners did get came early on in the bottom of the first inning. After Lauren Chamberlain reached on an error and Pendley walked, Brittany Williams drove a double to center field, scoring two runs. The score would remain the same throughout most of the game, as ULL starter Christina Hamilton pitched a gem of her own. Hamilton gave up just three hits after Williams' double and struck out two and walked two.
"Hamilton did a great job of keeping us off balance a lot," Chamberlain said. "I think we hit some balls hard. They were just making some plays. "Big ups" to Kelsey keeping us in the game."
The last hit Hamilton allowed proved to be the piece of insurance the Sooners needed. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Callie Parsons slapped a hit to left field. ULL left fielder Kassidy Zeringue dove for the ball, but missed, allowing the ball to scoot all the way to the fence. Parsons turned on the jets and motored all the way around for an inside-the-park home run, the first homer of her career.
"I was trying to take my hacks and as soon as I saw she dropped the ball I took off running," Parsons said. "I saw her running back to get it and I looked at Coach and she was telling me to go all the way."
The Sooners will have just a few hours before taking on No. 1 seed Oregon in another elimination game.