Oklahoma beats Oregon 4-2 to reach softball title series
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) The Women’s College World Series dream matchup is set.
Shay Knighten singled in two runs in the fifth inning to help defending champion Oklahoma beat Oregon 4-2 on Sunday in the semifinals.
The Sooners (59-9) will play top-seeded Florida on Monday night to start the best-of-three championship series. The teams have combined to win the past four national titles, but are meeting for the first time in the championship series.
Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso has great respect for Florida’s program.
”They’re good, well-coached, very complete team,” she said. ”Again, we’re going to have to play really, really well, give all we’ve got, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Paige Parker (26-5) earned the win and Paige Lowary got the save against Oregon.
The Ducks would have needed to beat Oklahoma twice on Sunday, and for a while, it looked like they might at least force a second game. Danica Mercado’s two-run homer in the top of the fifth put the Ducks (54-8) up 2-0.
Oregon’s Megan Kleist (21-4), who earned a win and a save in elimination games Saturday, took a shutout into the fifth against Oklahoma before unraveling.
Oklahoma got its rally started when Lea Wodach reached on an error. She bunted, and though the ball was moving towards foul territory, Oregon catcher Gwen Svekis picked it up and made an errant throw to first. Wodach ended up on second.
Oregon coach Mike White thought the ball went into foul territory, and he thinks there should be a way to find out.
”One thing I’d like to see going forward, and I think this tournament has really illustrated it, is the need for an instant replay, a need for the ability to make a challenge,” White said. ”There’s been so many games decided by some calls that could have gone – I think were incorrect calls to be quite frank, and that made a big difference. This game is played at a high speed. Umpires are human. You should have the ability to challenge a call.”
Pinch runner Raegan Rogers stepped in for Wodach and scored on a fielder’s choice. Knighten then dropped the ball lightly into right field to score Nicole Mendes and Kelsey Arnold.
Knighten had hoped to make better contact.
”I’ll take it,” she said. ”It worked. All I wanted to do was just put the ball in play, come into the right side, and just give my team a chance to score.”
Nicole Pendley followed with a double to score Knighten and chase Kleist.
Lowary closed the deal with two perfect innings to claim her 10th save of the season.
Now, Oklahoma, the No. 10 seed, has the chance to defend its title. The Sooners view themselves as underdogs.
”They really are getting into their groove,” Gasso said. ”We’ve wasted about eight weeks of trying to figure this out, and I think we’re making up for lost time, and they are relaxed, they’re playing their best softball, they’re having a blast. They don’t want it to end.”
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP