The Tennessee softball program would be perfectly happy if it never faced Lauren Chamberlain again.
A year after her walk-off home run ended an epic Game 1 of the championship series, Chamberlain blasted two home runs on Sunday, the second of which hit the scoreboard at Marita Hynes Field. The homer ignited a four-run sixth inning that turned a close game into a blowout as Oklahoma returned to the Women's College World Series with a 8-2 Game 3 win over Tennessee.
Chamberlain has been hobbled all postseason by a partially torn PCL in her right knee, but it wasn't a problem on Sunday as both of her home runs were towering drives to left field. Her first homer tied the score at one in the bottom of the third inning.
The Sooners are returning to Oklahoma City for the fourth straight year and ninth time overall. All nine trips have come in the last 15 years under coach Patty Gasso. The Sooners, last year's national champion, will face 2012 national champion Alabama on Thursday at a time to be determined.
Oklahoma got off to a shaky start on Sunday, as Destinee Martinez dropped a fly ball that would have been the third out of the second inning. The error allowed Megan Geer to score from second and give Tennessee a 1-0 lead. The Sooners had a chance to strike back, loading the bases with one out in the inning, but Whitney Ellis popped out to the catcher and Martinez grounded out.
Martinez was literally in tears after failing to deliver, but Chamberlain and the rest of her teammates picked her up in the bottom of the third. After Chamberlain's blast tied the score, Erin Miller singled to score Brittany Williams, who avoided the tag at home with a beautiful slide. OU loaded the bases once more, but Ellis was unable to deliver again.
In the fourth, Melissa Davin tied the score at two with a laser home run to left, but in the bottom, Oklahoma responded with a run on a perfectly executed squeeze play from Shelby Pendley that scored Martinez from third.
OU starter Kelsey Stevens bounced back from a tough outing Saturday night to dominate Tennessee on Sunday. Stevens gave up just three hits and walked two batters while striking out five. It was her 37th win of the season, which ties the OU single-season record.
In the fifth, OU got a bit of insurance courtesy of a home run from Javen Henson. It was Henson's first home run since April 8. Henson did everything possible to help the Sooners win on Sunday, even getting nailed by a pitch twice to get on base.
Finally, the Sooners blew the game open in the bottom of the sixth inning. After Chamberlain hit the scoreboard with her second home run, Pendley hit a single and Williams knocked her home with a two-run homer of her own. Then Georgia Casey, who had struggled at the plate all weekend, followed with a solo shot for the final margin.
When the game was over, the Sooners simply dished out high-fives and smiles. No dogpile, no wild celebration. The Sooners always expected to be able to defend last year's national championship, even if no one else did. Oklahoma has been rolling for the past two months, and maybe the momentum will keep rolling, all the way to a second straight national title.