OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma edged Florida, 5-4, in game two of the WCWS Championship Series to win its second straight national championship and third in five years, Tuesday evening at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium/OGE Energy Field.
The Sooners (61-9) become just the fourth program to collect consecutive national championships.
OU, which has won four national titles, trailed 3-1 entering the bottom of the second. Behind a four-run two-out rally, the Sooners took the lead for good and held on for the one-run win. Oklahoma sent nine batters to the plate as it grabbed a 5-3 advantage.
UF’s (58-10) Delanie Gourley entered with one out and the bases loaded. She struck out the first batter, but Caleigh Clifton drew a walk and tournament MVP Shay Knighten cleared the bases with a three-run double to right centerfield. It was Knighten’s second straight game-winning hit as she hit the three-run home run in the 17th inning of game one.
That would be Knighten’s only hit of the game as she finished 1-for-3 with three RBI. Clifton was 2-for-2 with a RBI and run scored.
The Sooners used four pitchers on the evening with freshman Mariah Lopez (18-1) earning the win. She relieved starter Paige Parker with two outs in the second and allowed a run on one hit with two strikeouts and no walks. Nicole Mendes, who started in rightfield, tossed and inning of scoreless relief before Paige Lowary slammed the door shut with a perfect two-inning save (3 strikeouts), her 11th of the season.
The Sooners got off to a quick start courtesy of a leadoff home run by Mendez. She laced an opposite field long ball over the leftfield fence for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
The Gators answered in the top of the second with three runs. Sophia Reynoso lined a 1-2 pitch over the fence in left to knot the score at 1-1. With two outs, Aleshia Ocasio’s hard grounder through the right side put UF on top 2-1 and knocked starter Paige Parker out of the game. The Gators added the third run when Lopez hit Kayli Kvistad.
Chelsea Herndon got a run back for the Gators in the third with a two-out solo home run to center. After the early fireworks, Herndon’s long ball would be the last run of the game.
Ocasio got the start for UF and took the loss. She lasted just 1.1 innings, allowing four runs on four hits with a walk. Gourley finished off the final 4.2 innings, surrendering a run on four hits with five punchouts and a walk.
Alexis Mack, IF, Oregon
Mia Camuso, IF, Oregon
Ali Aguilar, IF, Washington
Aleshia Ocasio, UT, Florida
Amanda Lorenz, OF, Florida
Justine McLean, OF, Florida
Kelly Barnhill, P, Florida
Delanie Gourley, P, Florida
Paige Lowary, P, Oklahoma
Paige Parker, P, Oklahoma
Shay Knighten, IF, Oklahoma
Nicole Mendes, UT, Oklahoma
Most Outstanding Player: Shay Knighten, lF, Oklahoma
-- Image courtesy of @OU_Softball