Home Northcarolina Oklahoma Claims Record Fourth Consecutive NCAA Softball Title, Defeats Texas 8-4 in...

Oklahoma Claims Record Fourth Consecutive NCAA Softball Title, Defeats Texas 8-4 in 2-Game Sweep

104

Oklahoma powered its way to a record fourth consecutive NCAA softball title, with Cydney Sanders delivering a go-ahead, bases-clearing double to secure an 8-4 victory over Texas on Thursday night, completing a two-game sweep in the Women’s College World Series championship.

This win marks the Sooners’ eighth title overall, all under coach Gasso, tying them with Arizona for the second-most championships behind UCLA’s 12.

Key contributors to the Sooners’ recent success include Jayda Coleman, Tiare Jennings, Kinzie Hansen, Rylie Boone, and pitcher Nicole May, who have been instrumental in each of the 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.”

The journey wasn’t easy, as Gasso acknowledged the immense pressure.

“‘Heavy is a head that wears the crown’ is the one thing that really stuck out,” Gasso said. “I heard someone say that. That really has felt true. It’s been exhausting. These players are exhausted, but they keep going.”

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

Despite criticism for transferring to Oklahoma State’s biggest rival, Maxwell felt vindicated.

“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 both games against top-seeded Texas, amassing 21 hits against a Longhorns team that had previously 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 added a two-run single in the sixth to extend Oklahoma’s lead. Gasso used five pitchers, with Maxwell securing the last four outs for the save following her complete-game victory in Game 1.

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

Mac Morgan, who threw a one-hitter against Florida earlier in the World Series, started Game 2 for Texas, giving 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) has yet to win 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 them in the Big 12 tournament.

Both programs are moving to 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 their chance of tying or taking the lead in the sixth inning. Scott’s two-out RBI infield single brought Texas within 5-4 and advanced Ashton Maloney to third base, but Scott overran first. Oklahoma second baseman Avery Hodge flipped the ball to first baseman Sanders, who tagged Scott out before she could return.

“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 had allowed Texas to take a 3-2 lead.

Texas can learn from this 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 these days making that last speech more enjoyable than it is right now,” he said.