Oklahoma Sooners win 4th NCAA softball title in a row

Oklahoma’s Alyssa Brito, center, celebrates a double against Texas in the second inning of Game 2 of the NCAA Women’s College World Series championship series Thursday in Oklahoma City. (AP photo)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Patty Gasso’s Oklahoma Sooners have done it again.

Oklahoma slugged its way to a record fourth straight NCAA softball title, getting a go-ahead double from Cydney Sanders and beating Texas 8-4 on Thursday night for a two-game sweep of the Women’s College World Series championship.

The Sooners won their eighth title, all under coach Gasso, and moved into a tie with Arizona for the second-most World Series championships behind UCLA’s 12.

Jayda Coleman, Tiare Jennings, Kinzie Hansen, Rylie Boone and pitcher Nicole May were significant contributors to each of the Sooners’ past four championship teams.

“They’ve cemented this program in history,” Gasso said. “They’ve cemented themselves in history. History can change, but these guys will never, ever be forgotten.”

Kelly Maxwell, an Oklahoma State transfer, was named Most Outstanding Player. The graduate student went 3-0 with a save at the World Series, allowing seven earned runs in 27 innings.

She was criticized for transferring to Oklahoma State’s biggest rival, but she feels it was worth it.

“I received a lot of hate, a lot of doubt,” Maxwell said. “But I’m just thankful for these girls and this team and this staff, just to pick me up and have my back.”

Second-seeded Oklahoma (59-7) scored eight runs in each of the two games against top-seeded Texas and pounded 21 hits total against a Longhorns team that came in having thrown three consecutive one-hit shutouts in the World Series.

“Congratulations to the University of Oklahoma on their fourth championship in a row,” Texas coach Mike White said. “It’s an incredible feat. We know how tough it is just to get here, let alone win four. It’s an amazing achievement.”

Kasidi Pickering hit a two-run homer in the second inning for the Sooners, and Ella Parker had a two-run single in the sixth that padded Oklahoma’s lead. Gasso used five pitchers, with Maxwell getting the last four outs for the save a day after her complete-game victory in Game 1.

Karlie Keeney got the start for Oklahoma, followed by Paytn Monticelli, Kierston Deal, May and Maxwell. Deal worked the fourth and was credited with the win.

Mac Morgan, who threw a one-hitter against Florida earlier in the World Series, started Game 2 against Oklahoma and gave up two runs on five hits in two innings. Estelle Czech took the loss, allowing three runs on four hits in two innings.

Texas (55-10) still hasn’t won a national title. The Longhorns lost to the Sooners in the 2022 championship series. This year, Texas won the Big 12 regular-season title, but Oklahoma beat the Longhorns in the Big 12 tournament.

Both programs are leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference next season.

“Texas always makes us better,” Gasso said. “I think that we could both agree that we do that for each other. That’s how we get here. That’s why we’re looking at each other on the national championship stage.”

Freshman Kayden Henry had two hits for Texas and drove in the Longhorns’ first run.

A baserunning mistake by Texas’ Mia Scott ended the Longhorns’ chance of tying the game or taking the lead in the sixth inning. Scott’s two-out, RBI infield single got Texas within 5-4 and advanced Ashton Maloney to third base, but Scott went too far rounding first. Oklahoma second baseman Avery Hodge flipped the ball to first baseman Sanders, who tagged Scott out before she could get back.

“It was huge,” Maxwell said. “I mean, they definitely had the momentum in that moment. … I saw Mia Scott kind of come off the bag. I was just telling Avery, ‘Turn around, turn around, let’s get her, c’mon.’ She finally heard me. We got it done.”

Two innings earlier, Hodge’s fielding error allowed Texas to take a 3-2 lead.

Texas could learn from the experience. White has a young team that he expects to return to the World Series.

“As I told the team, I want to be on the other side of the podium here one of the these days making that last speech more enjoyable than it is right now,” he said.


AP college sports: https://apnews.com/hub/college-sports


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