THE CITY OF OKLAHOMA – “We’re Better Than This,” Oklahoma Softball Coach Patty gasso said in a televised on-field interview in Round 4 of Game 2 of the WCWS Championship Series on Wednesday night.
Two innings later, the stumbling Sooners proved him right.
that of Jocelyn Alo A two-run home run to center-right in the top of the sixth gave OU (55-4) their first lead in two games against No. 10 seed Florida State (49-12-1). The Sooners would add three insurance points to post a 6-2 victory and force a win-win championship contest today at 2 p.m. at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.
OU will be aiming for their fifth national title since 2000.
“The momentum is definitely on our side,” Gasso said afterwards. “This team was feeling really good, very excited about the way they won. Even though it was late in the game, it’s a win that puts us in a league game to win it all, and that’s a big deal for this group. They’ve fought really hard throughout the season to get here. So it should be an exciting day tomorrow. “
Over the course of five innings, it appeared the Sooners’ record-breaking season would end with a thud despite the eclipse of all Division I records in team batting average, stroke percentage, runs scored and circuits.
That all changed with a batting from Alo, who added to his one-school season record by clubbing his 33rd homerun. “I knew I was feeling good the whole game,” Alo said. “So it was just about staying calm and trying to hit hard. And I saw him. And I hit him.”
Rather than going into his usual trot, Alo essentially sprinted around the bases. “I think the last time I did the basics was probably my first year, my very first home run,” Alo said with a smile.
That same dinger pushed OU to surpass Hawaii’s previous single-season record of 158 set in 2010 while also giving the Sooners the single-season record for total runs.
With so much attention focused on OU’s struggles at home, lost in the mix was another stable performance Sooners senior left-hander. Giselle Juarez (22-1), who excelled in his four WCWS outings. Juarez dispersed four hits, struck out six on strikes and walked three to go the distance. His only hiccup allowed a home run of 2 points at the end of the second.
“I was just super pumped,” Juarez said of getting the support needed for the race. “My hitters gave us a chance to win this game. I just had to do my job, and that’s what I did. I’m excited because now we’re here (for the championship). installed (after allowing the home run) I think my hitters came up to me and they said, “We’ve got you. We’ve got your back. “I think for me it was about keeping them in this game. They had my back. They’re always going to have my back.”
After hiding in the shadows towards the end of the season, Juarez returned to the role of being unmistakably the staff ace.
“You see a very free Giselle Juarez, that’s what we saw in 2019, “said Gasso.” But it’s a different G. He’s very determined, very determined, unfazed at the moment. It’s really exciting to see that. “
OU struggled early in games throughout WCWS, scoring just 10 total runs in the first three innings, then adding 34 runs in the final four innings.
After 12 innings of Sooners batting persistently hitting balls directly at FSU defenders, OU hitting suddenly began to find holes in the final two innings.
The Sooners finished with 11 hits. They had eight hits in the last two innings and could have widened the score if they hadn’t blocked five runners on base. Each starter in the OR range now reaches at least 0.300.
Alo went 3 for 3 and scored two runs. First baseman Kinzie Hansen and left-handed Mackenzie donihoo each went 2 for 4. Jana Johns put OR on the scoreboard with a massive solo shot along the left field line in the third inning.
“It was just a matter of passing the torch,” Alo said. “One batter leaves, another batter leaves, another batter leaves. So keep rolling the ball.”
Gasso said: “It was definitely Jocelyne Alo it created that energy and everyone just started to get behind it. We felt the momentum coming. We were silent for a while. After Jana Johns hit his solo home run, it was ball on the ground after ball on the ground. Everyone was a little frustrated. We kept trying to come together, talk about things and make adjustments. Things just weren’t going very well and that is to the credit of the Florida State pitching staff. “
Defense also played a key role. After making three season-high mistakes in Game 1, the Sooners made no mistakes on Wednesday.