Oklahoma softball: Sooners win 2021 WCWS and 5th national crown

For the second straight day, senior Giselle Juarez pitched Oklahoma softball to a complete-game victory, and this one, a 5-1 win, resulted in a national championship win over Florida State.

The Sooners (56-4) overcame a Game 1 loss to the Seminoles in the Women’s College World Series championship series, riding the veteran arm of Juarez, who pitched 14.0 innings over the last two games, allowing just three runs on six hits and striking out 13 Florida State hitters.

In the winner-take-all Game 3 on Thursday, the fifth-year Sooner senior retired 13 of the last 14 batters she faced and ended the game with a pair of strike out and catching a pop up by FSU’s Devyn Flaherty to end the game and deliver the championship trophy to head coach Patty Gasso and the Sooners.

Juarez was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2021 WCWS. She finished the 2021 season with a record of 23-1 and was the winning pitcher if five of Oklahoma’s six WCWS wins on the way to the title.

It was Oklahoma’s fifth national championship, all coming on Gasso’s watch and all since 2000. The Sooners have won three of the last five WCWS titles, including back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017. OU’s other national championships came in 2000 and 2013.

Florida State Seminoles
Oklahoma Sooners

The Sooners collected just five hits of their own off of three Florida State pitchers, but they were all timely hits. Jocelyn Alo’s towering solo home run to left field in the first inning — her 34th of the season and No. 88 of her career — put OU on the board first. Freshman Jayda Coleman followed suit with a solo blast over the left field fence in the second.

Those two long balls, Oklahoma’s 14th and 15th in this year’s WCWS, gave the Sooners and 2-0 lead after two innings, and they added on three more in the fifth to increase the advantage to 5-1.

OU’s three-run fifth came about after two were out. A wild pitch scored National Freshman of the Year Tiare Jennings from third. She had singled to lead off the inning. A couple of free passes and a two-run double by Coleman produced the other two runs, giving the freshman three RBI in her first two at bats.

This game could have very easily ended as a one-hit shutout. The Seminoles’ only run was in the third. With two out and a runner on second, third baseman Sydney Sherrill, one of five seniors in the FSU starting lineup, hit a high infield pop up that Sooner second baseman Jennings apparently lost in the sun. The ball fell to the ground untouched, allowing the runner on second, who was running with two outs, to score.

Unlike OU’s previous seven WCWS games, the Sooners did all their scoring in the first three innings. Oklahoma had scored just 10 runs total in the first three innings in the seven previous games.

Alo and Coleman combined for four of OU’s five hits in the game. Jennings recorded the other hit.

Oklahoma is the first national No. 1 seed to win a Women’s College World Series championship since Florida did it in 2015. Only five No. 1 seeds have won the WCWS since the best-of-three championship series was introduced in 2005.

The Sooners are also just the fourth team to win a national championship after losing the opening game of the WCWS.

Oklahoma finished the season with a record of 56-4. The 56 wins is the seventh most in program history and the second-best winning percentage by a Sooner softball team. OU’s 57-4 record by the 2013 Sooner national championship team was one-thousandth percentage point (.934) better than this year’s team (.933).