Women's College World Series: Oklahoma completes unprecedented NCAA four-peat by finishing off Texas

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 06: Rylie Boone #0 of the Oklahoma Sooners reacts after reaching first base on an infield single during game two of the Division I Softball Championship held at Devon Park on June 6, 2024 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Photo by Tyler Schank/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Rylie Boone and the Sooners dug deep to make NCAA history. (Photo by Tyler Schank/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Texas softball might have been the No. 1 seed in the Women’s College World Series this year, but Oklahoma was the juggernaut. And that juggernaut made history Thursday.

The Sooners defeated Texas 8-4 in Game 2 of the WCWS to complete an unprecedented four-pear of NCAA softball titles. It is the Sooners’ eighth title overall and their sixth in the past eight tournaments. All have been achieved under legendary head coach Patty Gasso, who tied Arizona’s Mark Candrea for the most NCAA rings by a softball coach.

It was a win in which Oklahoma dug deep. Its top four hitters accounted for only three hits total, while its bottom four hitters went a combined 7-for-10, led by three hits by senior outfielder Rylie Boone. And after a complete game by Kelly Maxwell, the Sooners used a WCWS championship series-record five different pitchers to reach seven innings against the Texas lineup, including Maxwell.

Maxwell, who received no shortage of criticism for transferring from Oklahoma State to its in-state rival last offseason, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after going 5-0 with the save in Game 2.

The loss deprives the Longhorns of what would have been their first ever national title, in a season where the Longhorns went 55-10. Four of those losses were to Oklahoma, who also defeated them in the Big 12 championship game.

UCLA was previously the only other team to win three in a row, from 1988 to 1990. The Sooners have gone 235-15 in this run of titles, with no shutout or run-rule losses. It began with All-Americans such as Jocelyn Alo and Jayda Coleman and now features Alyssa Brito and Kinzie Hansen. Shortstop Tiare Jennings has been the through line, with four first-team All-American selections and four national championships.

2024 wasn’t the easiest season, though, at least by Oklahoma standards. The Sooners dropped a series to both of their primary rivals in Texas and Oklahoma State and had to settle for the No. 2 seed behind Texas in the WCWS, after being the top seed in the previous three tournaments.

That ended up not mattering. Oklahoma entered the game with a 1-0 advantage via their runaway Game 1 win, breaking through Freshman All-American Teagan Kavan for an 8-3 win.

Texas drew first blood in Game 2, thanks to a bloop two-out single by Kayden Henry in the second inning. Oklahoma’s response was quick, with Kasidi Pickering going deep to left field to take a 2-1 lead after a double by Brito.

Texas scored another run in the next two innings and appeared well on its way to equalizing the series, until the Sooners loaded the bases against Estelle Czech. Cydney Sanders emptied them with a three-run double.

As all of this happening, Oklahoma was cycling through pitchers at an unprecedented rate. When it ran into trouble in the sixth when Texas put runners on second and third with one out, it turned to Game 1 starter Maxwell to face the heart of the Texas order.

What happened next basically decided the game. Mia Scott hit a chopper to second base, which Oklahoma’s Avery Hodge couldn’t corral. It looked like Texas No. 3 hitter Viviana Martinez would get a chance to tie the game, until Scott inexplicably took a turn toward second base as Hodge prepared to throw the ball back to Maxwell.

Thanks to a heads-up play, that turned into the third out of the inning.

It might be presumptive to say Texas was shaken after that, but Oklahoma tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, and that was it. The Longhorns can’t deny they had an opportunity to tie the series, but Oklahoma, as it has so many times over the past four years, kept looking inevitable.

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