OU Softball Opens WCWS Championship Series With 8-3 Win Over Texas

The No. 2-seeded Sooners face No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Texas Wednesday at Devon Park in Oklahoma City in game one of the best-of-three WCWS Championship Series, scheduled for 7 p.m. CT on ESPN with Beth Mowins, Jessica Mendoza and Michele Smith on the call. Holly Rowe will serve as the field reporter.

Wednesday, June 5th 2024, 9:54 pm

By: OU Athletics


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9:50 p.m. Update: OU Softball took down Texas in the first game of the Women's College World Series Championship on Wednesday.

The Sooners took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back, adding three more runs in the third inning and then one each in the final three innings.

The 8-3 victory put the Sooners one win away from a record-breaking four-straight national championships.

Original story below...

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The three-time defending NCAA champion Oklahoma softball team makes its fifth straight and ninth overall Women's College World Series Championship Series appearance in 2024.

OU is making its eight straight and 17th overall WCWS appearance.

Oklahoma is vying to become the first softball program to win four straight NCAA titles. The Sooners and the 1988-90 UCLA Bruins are the lone two programs to have won three consecutive national championships. An OU title would be the program's sixth in the last eight seasons and its eighth all-time.

The No. 2-seeded Sooners face No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Texas Wednesday at Devon Park in Oklahoma City in game one of the best-of-three WCWS Championship Series, scheduled for 7 p.m. CT on ESPN with Beth Mowins, Jessica Mendoza and Michele Smith on the call. Holly Rowe will serve as the field reporter.

All games can be heard via 107.7 FM The Franchise in Oklahoma or nationwide on The Varsity Network with Chris Plank and alumna DJ Sanchez on the call.

2024 marks OU's 12th trip in the last 13 competed postseasons to OKC. No other program in the country has made as many trips to the WCWS as OU since the 2011 season.

RED RIVER RENEWED

The Red River Rivalry embarks on a final Big 12 chapter in the 2024 WCWS Championship Series as Oklahoma and Texas square off for the NCAA title. OU has split the season series thus far with the Longhorns, dropping two-of-three in Austin before claiming the Big 12 tournament title with a 5-1 win at Devon Park.

Oklahoma hasn't lost to Texas in four prior WCWS matchups, twice sending their rivals to the elimination round in the second game of the 2013 and 2022 tournaments. The 2024 edition of the WCWS Red River Rivalry is a rematch of the 2022 championship series that saw OU outscore Texas 26-6 across the two games to claim its sixth national championship.

OU has won the NCAA Championship in both prior WCWS that have featured a showdown against Texas. The Sooners are 6-1 all-time against Big 12 opponents at the WCWS, going 4-0 against Texas, 1-0 vs. both Oklahoma State and Baylor with their lone loss at the hands of future SEC counterpart Missouri in 2011.

LAST TIME OUT

Less than 24 hours after a loss that forced an elimination game, OU senior centerfielder Jayda Coleman blasted a walk-off solo home run just inches over the outstretched glove of Florida left fielder Korbe Otis in the bottom of the eighth inning to give OU a heart-thumping 6-5 comeback victory at Devon Park.

Coincidentally, when Coleman stepped on home plate for the game-winning run, it moved her past Jocelyn Alo on the school's all-time runs scored list with 282.

Lefthanded Sooner ace Kelly Maxwell (22-2) went the distance for the second time in the WCWS, scattering four hits and finishing with eight strikeouts, giving her 900 in her collegiate career. Her 22 victories also set a career single-season high as the veteran registered her 80th collegiate win.

All this was accomplished despite a slow start in which Maxwell surrendered three home runs and all five Florida runs by the top of the third inning, at which time the Gators took a 5-2 lead.

OU was outscored 14-9 and stranded 20 baserunners in its two games against the Gators (54-15), but the Sooners did outhit Florida 22-11 to advance to their fifth straight WCWS championship series.

Freshman designated player Ella Parker went 3-for-4 at the plate with three RBIs, which included a two-run homer to center that tied the score at 2 in the bottom of the first inning. She later knocked in the game-tying run with a single in the bottom of the sixth.

Meanwhile, freshman right fielder Kasidi Pickering went 2-for-3 with a double that hit halfway up the outfield wall in right-center that sparked a potential game-clinching rally in the seventh.

POSTSEASON: SOONER SEASON

Oklahoma has made the NCAA Tournament 30 straight seasons and every year of head coach Patty Gasso's tenure since 1995 (tournament was not played in 2020). The Sooners are tied with Washington for the longest active postseason run.

OU has been a national seed for each of the past 16 seasons. The 2024 season marks the 17th WCWS appearance for the Sooners, who have won five of the past seven WCWS crowns.

With seven national titles (2000, '13, '16, '17, '21, '22, '23) Oklahoma trails only UCLA (12) and Arizona (8) for most in NCAA history. No other team has more than two national championships.

Oklahoma owns an 11-6 record across its nine championship series appearances. The Sooners have won six of their eight title series berths since the best-of-three set was established in 2005, falling only to Alabama (2012, 1-2) and UCLA (2019, 0-2).

PLAYOFF ACES

Sooner pitchers Nicole May and Kelly Maxwell have enjoyed terrific postseason success across their careers and will close their final collegiate season in the WCWS Championship Series.

Maxwell is now 12-5 across 20 NCAA Tournament appearances (19 starts) and has pitched to a stellar 1.80 ERA over 108.2 postseason innings. She has punched out 160 while walking just 38, striking out 38.4% of batters faced with a .155 batting average against.

May charters a 10-3 record in NCAA postseason play and has logged a career tournament ERA of 2.93 in 76.1 innings, registering a 76:15 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

SOONER SUCCESS AT THE WCWS

Oklahoma's senior class enters its fourth WCWS in as many seasons and is within reach of multiple individual career records.

Tiare Jennings is two home runs and three base hits from tying Jocelyn Alo's career records of 12 and 32 respectively. Jennings is a lifetime .367 hitter in 23 games at the WCWS, collecting 10 home runs with a WCWS-record 32 RBIs and seven doubles.

Jayda Coleman needs one run scored to tie another Alo record of 22, slashing .333/.425/.573 for a .999 OPS with 10 extra-base hits (6 2B, 4 HR) at the tournament.

OU sparkplug Rylie Boone is a .435 hitter in her career at the WCWS, ranking second in career batting average entering the championship. Kinzie Hansen bats .333 at the WCWS with six home runs, two doubles and 19 RBIs.

TIA TIME

Senior shortstop Tiare Jennings leads OU with 24 home runs, 66 RBIs and 15 doubles entering the WCWS Championship Series and is the lone Sooner to have started all 63 games this season. She slashes .375/.470/.828 for a 1.298 OPS, drawing walks at a 15.4% clip while scoring 55 runs. Jennings has played 382.0 of the Sooners' 38.70 innings at shortstop, converting 177 of her 180 chances for a .983 fielding percentage with just three errors.

Over the course of the 2024 season, the All-Big 12 First Team selection established OU's career doubles record (63) while recording both her 300th hit and 300th RBI. She recently passed Lauren Chamberlain for sole possession of third on the NCAA all-time home run leaderboard and needs four RBIs to move into fourth on the NCAA's career leaderboard.

FRESHMEN PHENOMS

OU freshmen left-handed hitters Ella Parker and Kasidi Pickering have complemented the loaded Sooner upperclass by anchoring the top half of the order. Should Pickering drive in at least two runs in the WCWS Championship Series, the duo would become the first pair of OU freshmen to both homer 10+ times and record 50+ RBIs in their debut seasons.

Parker has served as OU's designated player throughout the 2024 season, blasting 13 home runs and 14 doubles while ranking third on the team with 60 RBIs. The NFCA Freshman of the Year finalist enters the champ series leading Oklahoma in batting average (.419), stolen bases (17) and wOBA (.563) while producing a whopping 1.261 OPS.

Pickering made an immediate impact in her first collegiate at-bat, blasting an opposite-field grand slam against Utah Valley on February 8, and has since started 62 of 64 games. She slashes .387/.516/.676 for a 1.192 OPS while producing 10 home runs, nine doubles and 48 RBIs.

The duo has taken their games to another level in the postseason. Pickering slashes .455/.563/.909 for a 1.472 OPS while Parker adds a 1.233 OPS mark on a .448/.543/.690 slash line. The two have combined to bash five home runs and drive in 15 across Oklahoma's nine NCAA Tournament games.

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE

Oklahoma's dangerous lineup has taken its collective approach to another level in 2024, posting some of its best walk and strikeout marks in program history.

The Sooners are walking in 16.2% of their plate appearances, up from 12.6% in 2023, which would also stand as the program's second-highest clip all-time. OU's walk rate is the highest since it drew walks at a program-record 17.5% rate in 2013. The lineup's 332 walks drawn are the second-most in program history (348, 2013).

As a lineup, Oklahoma strikes out in just 8.5% of its trips, currently standing as the third-lowest mark in program history. The OU K rate is down from 8.7% in 2023 as the Sooners hold a 173:332 K:BB ratio at the plate.

RUNS, RUNS AND MORE RUNS

The Oklahoma lineup continues to roll in 2024, leading the nation in on-base percentage while ranking third in runs per game and home runs entering the WCWS.

OU plates 7.84 runs a game and slashes .362/.470/.649 for a 1.119 OPS, blasting 118 home runs. The Sooners' incredible plate discipline sees them strike out in just 8.5% of their trips while walking at a 16.2% clip. As a club, OU owns a .483 weighted on-base average (wOBA).

Four everyday players are batting .400 or better while nine of 11 position players with at least 15 starts are batting .320 or better. A whopping eight Sooners with at least 120 plate appearances boast an OPS mark above 1.000, six have driven in 40 or more runs and seven have left the yard at least 10 times.

2024 IN THE SOONER RECORD BOOKS

The Sooners have enjoyed a banner season while embarking upon the final chapter of its legendary senior class, establishing multiple statistical marks ranking across the top single-seasons in program history.

Most notably, the Sooners have drawn the second-most walks in program history with 332, 16 away from matching their highest mark set in 2013. Oklahoma can also climb its all-time ranks in doubles (needs 6 for fourth) and hits (needs 7 for fifth).

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