OU Softball Advances To Women's College World Series With 4-2 Win Over Florida State

Friday night's 4-2 victory over Florida State before a crowd of 4,510 at Love's Field gives the three-time defending national champion Sooners a shot at winning an unprecedented fourth straight NCAA crown at next week's Women's College World Series at Devon Stadium in Oklahoma City.

Friday, May 24th 2024, 10:38 pm

By: News 9, OU Athletics


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For the Oklahoma softball team, the streak remains alive. Several streaks, actually.

Friday night's 4-2 victory over Florida State before a crowd of 4,510 at Love's Field gives the three-time defending national champion Sooners a shot at winning an unprecedented fourth straight NCAA crown at next week's Women's College World Series at Devon Stadium in Oklahoma City.

While capturing its sixth straight Norman Super Regional, OU also stretched its record NCAA postseason winning streak to 18 to advance to an eighth consecutive WCWS.

As this tournament's first team to qualify for to Oklahoma City, the No. 2-seeded Sooners (54-6) also will have six precious days to catch their breath before playing their next game.

The teams combined to use six pitchers Friday night.

For the Sooners, it was a chance to throw Kierston DealKarlie Keeney and Nicole May into high-pressure situations before advancing to softball's biggest stage.

"I love what they did and [how they] handed the torch to each other," OU Hall of Fame coach Patty Gasso said of her three pitchers. "They had the right mindset. I'm telling you, when you hold a team like Florida State to two runs, that's winning, because they are incredible swingers. Just really good hitters."

Meanwhile, the No. 15-seeded Seminoles (46-16) did what they could with a staff that was shorthanded. "It's just unfortunate the injuries they've had with their pitching staff," Gasso said.

OU took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning on a perfectly executed delayed steal from freshman Ella Parker, who deliberately got caught in a rundown between first and second base, allowing the fleet-footed Tiare Jennings to slide home safely from third.

Deal went 2.1 innings, surrendering three hits, which included a ferocious line-drive home run from standout third baseman Jaysoni Beachum to left field that tied the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the third.

Meanwhile, the Sooners quickly timed up freshman Mimi Gooden, the Seminoles' third pitcher, by squaring up for repeated line drives.

Jayda Coleman opened the fifth inning with a liner to right for a base hit. Jennings followed with a line-drive out to second. Then came a hard-hit single to the right-field corner from Parker.

A rattled Gooden then threw a wild pitch, allowing Coleman to score from third and make it 2-1.

After OU third baseman Alyssa Brito lined out to shortstop, FSU starter Ashlyn Daley re-entered and promptly got stung for a two-run homer to left from freshman rightfielder Kasidi Pickering to give the Sooners a 4-1 lead in the fifth.

Rightfielder Kalei Harding pulled the Seminoles to within 4-2 the bottom half of the inning with a towering solo home run that flew directly over the left-field foul pole. By rule, any ball that strikes the foul pole is fair, so Gasso did not seek a review.

One batter before Harding's clout, however, Coleman added to her extensive highlight reel with arguably the greatest catch in her storied defensive career when she leapt high at the center-field wall to rob Beachum of her second home run of the game.

"I saw her jump and then I saw her fall with the ball in her glove," a smiling Gasso said. "I'm not kidding you -- and I know this is weird -- I had a little tear in my eye because I'm so expectant of her. But that was unbelievable. Man, she can't wait to line something up like that."

Where does it rank among Coleman's impressive array of home run robberies?

"I like all my robbed home runs. I'm not going to lie," Coleman said. "But I will have to say I had 110-percent trust in (OU leftfielder) Hannah Coor, because she was the one telling me how much space I had to the wall. I didn't even look back at the wall at all. And just to see her face after I caught it. She was like, 'Oh, my God. You actually caught it.' That was the best thing of all was watching your teammates celebrate. The best part of making those plays is watching your teammates celebrate and just watching how happy they are."

May pitched the final two innings and retired six straight batters to slam the door on the Seminoles.

In the sixth inning, OU first baseman Cydney Sanders also flashed her defensive skills by making a diving catch of a foul ball halfway up the first-base line. On the next pitch, Sanders cleanly fielded a smash off the bat of Jahni Kerr.

Gasso is now 7-1 in the NCAA postseason against FSU while the program is 8-1 overall including a victory at the 1994 Stillwater Regional. 

UP NEXT


OU will begin competition at the 2024 Women's College World Series at Devon Park in Oklahoma City on Thursday, May 30. A full schedule of the WCWS will be unveiled later this weekend.

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