OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – It just wouldn’t feel right if the Women’s College World Series didn’t have a classic showdown between Alabama and Oklahoma.
Both put on one heck of a show Sunday, complete with extra-inning pitching duels, spectacular defensive plays, big home runs and even a walk-off win.
Alabama fought its way through the elimination bracket over the weekend and pushed the Sooners to the brink Sunday but fell 7-3 in Sunday’s if-necessary game, coming up short of reaching its third WCWS championship series. Earlier in the day, Alabama got a 2-1 walk-off win to force the nightcap.
It was the final game for a Crimson Tide team that won the Southeastern Conference regular-season title with its best record (60-10) since 2012’s national championship season (60-8). Alabama finished last season 36-20.
“It was one heck of a ride,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “Sixty wins with basically a new infield, three new pitchers and a new outfielder. They have taught me and make me a tremendous coach.”
After a shaky start, in Game 2, Alabama pitcher Krystal Goodman battled her way out of jams for four innings. But with two outs in the fifth, OU’s Jocelyn Alo belted a two-run home run that went well beyond the 220-foot wall in center field for a 4-1 lead.
Skylar Wallace put Alabama right back in the game the next inning with a two-out, two-run home run to make it a one-run deficit again.
But Goodman gave up another two-run homer in the sixth, to Nicole Mendes, that made it 6-3. Sarah Cornell then relieved Goodman.
Oklahoma struck early in the second game, taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
Alabama senior catcher Reagan Dykes gave the Crimson Tide a spark in the second with a solo home run off Giselle Juarez to cut the deficit in half and prompting OU coach Patty Gasso to bring in reliever Mariah Lopez. Juarez had pitched all eight innings of the first game.
For eighth innings in Game 1 Alabama had no answer for Oklahoma All-American ace Juarez, who held the Crimson Tide to just one hit through six innings.
Finally the Crimson Tide broke through and all it took was someone who hadn’t faced Juarez.
Pinch-hitter Caroline Hardy delivered a two-out RBI single to score pinch-runner Kloyee Anderson to give Alabama a 1-0 win.
“When she hit that everybody just went crazy,” Alabama pitcher Montana Fouts said. “No one cared who hit it, no one cared who scored, it just happened. That’s what we are all about with this team.”
It was a pitcher’s duel for all eighth innings of Game 1 between Juarez and Alabama’s Fouts, the SEC Freshman of the Year.
Fouts pitched all eight innings, allowing four hits with four walks and five strikeouts. The Alabama defense helped her out several times, including a double play when third baseman Maddie Morgan caught a line drive and doubled up the runner on first base to get Fouts out of a jam in the fifth inning. Morgan made another big catch in the fourth.
On the other side, Alabama was unable to get to Juarez, who allowed the one run on four hits with eight strikeouts.
Kaylee Tow got a double in the seventh, but Alabama couldn’t get her home, thanks to some great defense from the Sooners. Mendes, OU’s hero against Alabama in Thursday’s 3-2 win, made a diving catch on a liner by Merris Schroder to end the inning.
In the eighth, senior leader Reagan Dykes led off with a single to put Alabama in business. A sac bunt moved pinch-runner Anderson to second, setting the stage for Hardy’s heroics later in the inning.
“I just thought Caroline could do it,” Murphy said. “She has come through in the clutch and it was her turn.”
POST GAME PRESS CONFERENCE https://t.co/1rMekWqTEB
— #BeTheBest (@BeTheBestClinic) June 3, 2019