Oklahoma softball: No-doubter over UCLA sends Sooners to WCWS title series

Jocelyn Alo crushed two home runs and the Oklahoma softball team teed off on Florida for a 15-0 run-rule win to send the Sooners to the Women’s College World Series championship series.

UCLA staved off elimination in the opening game of its semifinal showdown with Oklahoma, jumping out in front early off of OU starter Nicole May and never trailing in a 7-3 victory over the Sooners that forced an “if necessary” winner-take-all second game on Monday, which Oklahoma completely dominated.

As it has all season after suffering an extremely rare defeat, Oklahoma showed its incredible poise and resilience and came back in the second game, leaving no doubt from the opening inning who was the better team.

Tiare Jennings got the run party started in the opening inning, crushing a three-run homer to left field to put OU ahead 3-0. And the Sooners were just getting started.

Alo went four-for-four in the second game with a pair of long home runs. She knocked one out of the park in the second inning with Taylon Snow and Rylie Boone aboard to increase the OU lead to 6-0. Then, in the eight-run fifth, Alo hit a booming blast that tucked itself inside the left-field foul pole and cleared everything in sight. Those were the 119th and 120th home runs in the NCAA record-holder’s sensational college career.

The Sooners rocked three UCLA pitchers for 13 hits in just five innings. Had this game gone the full seven innings, Oklahoma might have won 20-0. It was OU’s program record 40th run-rule win of the season and the Sooners nation-best 33rd shutout of the season.

Sooner ace Hope Trautwein was unhittable in the second game, picking up her third win in this WCWS and her 21st of the season with just one loss. The NCAA ERA leader did not allow a run and surrendered just two hits along with six strikeouts.

The opening game loss was just Oklahoma’s third of the season, all coming against the three other remaining teams in this year’s WCWS.

D Wise stroked a two-run homer off OU’s May in the top of the first, staking the Bruins, who lead all of Division I college softball with 12 national championships, to an early 2-0 advantage. Sooner lead-off hitter Jayda Coleman got one of the runs back on a fence-clearing blast of her own in the bottom of the first.

UCLA’s Maya Brady hit one out of the yard with no one on base in the third inning, making it 3-1 and hit another round-tripper, driving in a couple more runs in the seventh inning. UCLA’s Holly Azevedo set down the Sooners in order in the bottom of the seventh, setting up the if necessary game, which followed 30 minutes after the first game.

Because Oklahoma had won its first two games in the 2022 WCWS, UCLA, which lost its opening-round game to Texas, had to beat the Sooners twice on Monday to advance to the championship series.

UCLA used a combination of its two best pitchers in the first game to try to avoid elimination. Megan Faraimo (24-5) and Azevedo (21-2) tag-teamed for the Bruins on the mound and the strategy was successful in shutting down the Sooner bats and power-laden lineup. Oklahoma managed just four hits in the game.

Home runs accounted for all the Oklahoma runs in the opening game. In addition to Coleman’s lead-off blast in the first, Grace Lyons hit a towering shot to left in the fourth with a runner on base to narrow the UCLA lead to 5-3.

One positive note coming out of the Sooner loss in semifinal Game 1 was that National Freshman of the Year Jordy Bahl came on in relief of May in the fourth and pitched the final 4 2/3 innings, allowing just two runs (both coming on the seventh-inning homer by Brady) on just two hits and striking out four. She threw 72 pitches overall in just her second appearance in the circle since early May after suffering a forearm injury.

The top-seeded Sooners now move to the best two-out-of-three championship series for the third straight season and fourth time in the last five. OU takes a 56-3 record into what will be an all-Big 12 series, seeking back-to-back national titles for the second time in program history and the Sooners sixth national championship.

Oklahoma is 6-2 against Oklahoma State and Texas this season and already has a win over the Longhorns in this NCAA Championship.