OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Claire Jenkins never doubted herself.
Despite being in an 0-for-19 slump from the SEC Tournament all the way through two postseason tournaments, the Alabama shortstop still had faith she could hit and deliver for her team.
She did that and then some on softball’s biggest stage.
Jenkins broke out of her slump with a second-inning single against No. 1 Oklahoma on Thursday in the first round of the College World Series. Later, when the Tide needed a boost, Jenkins gave it to them with a solo home run off Sooner ace Giselle Juarez in the fifth inning to tie the game 2-2.
In the end Alabama fell 3-2 and faces Florida on Saturday in an elimination game. For Jenkins, Thursday’s breakout game was something she always knew she had in her.
“I thought about my mindset because I know I can do it,” she said. “I was just focusing back on what got me here in the first place and making sure my mind is in the right spot. After the first hit I was kind of like “OK, you’re ready, you got the first hit, let’s keep rolling.”
Jenkins led off the third inning with a single to left field and later scored Alabama’s first run to tie the game 1-1.
She came up to the plate in the fifth with Alabama trailing again. She belted an 0-2 pitch to left-centerfield to tie the game again.
“It was a change-up. I sat on it really deep,” she said. “I knew it was pretty high in the sky. I just hoped that it would make it out.”
It was Jenkins’ first home run since she belted two against South Carolina on April 5.
“It’s been a while,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “She’s been stuck on 12 for two months. You could just see the weight off her shoulders.”
Facing elimination, on Saturday against Florida, Murphy said the Crimson Tide needs to show the type of determination Jenkins showed at the plate Thursday against one of the top pitchers in the country.
“Just resiliency,” Murphy said. “I mean, everybody knows that she was going through a slump here. … Its very similar to us all year long: grit, resiliency. That’s what you have to have right now, a very short-term memory.”