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WCWS Finals: Oklahoma Dynasty Captures Historic Three-Peat with Game Two Win

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There are countless things about Oklahoma that amaze us. That’s bound to happen when you have one of the best offenses, pitching staffs and defenses on one team. The way the Sooners respond any time they fall behind is one of the most remarkable parts of this chapter of what is now one of the greatest teams and dynasties in softball history.

Oklahoma secured the 3-1 win over Florida State, joining UCLA (1988-90) as the only team to win three straight national championships, and surpass the Bruins for the best winning percentage for a single team ever. The Sooners had to earn it. It was far from easy.

“It is incredibly hard,” Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso said. “I don’t know how to explain it. I just can tell you the way I feel right now is free because the expectation is overwhelming, the pressure is overwhelming. They all have each other to laugh with. I’m standing here by myself, so that’s why you’re hearing my voice do this…

“So the fact that we got here and we won this is just mind-boggling with all of the wave of pressure and so forth, I could not be more proud of this group. This coaching staff that I have is just absolutely unbelievable. I’m sitting here talking about our team, but they’re the ones that are grinding every day, looking at numbers, looking at their iPads, really creating phenomenal plans. They’re great coaches, they have great knowledge. I’ve got a great support staff. I’m just blessed with wonderful people around me.”

Mack Leonard gave Florida State its first lead of the championship series in the fourth, lifting a solo home run off of Oklahoma starter Alex Storako. It felt like the story was writing itself. The Game 1 starting pitcher finally made an impact with her bat after struggling the entire NCAA Tournament. But this was Oklahoma’s quest to establish itself as the best team the game has ever seen, it wasn’t going to stop Thursday.

Cydney Sanders and Grace Lyons combined to hit 44 home runs last season. But both their power numbers dipped this season for various reasons; new culture, injuries, etc. Each was very capable of course but Kathryn Sandercock also doesn’t allow home runs. The Florida State ace, who had been rolling, had only yielded 39 homers in 700-plus career innings. None of this mattered to Oklahoma, they were simply a team on a mission.

Sanders, as she showed at Arizona State, stung a ball the other way to tie the game with a line-drive home run. Then Lyons stayed patient and waited on a ball low in the zone. She went back-to-back with Sanders, hitting the go-ahead blast out of the reach of Kaley Mudge in left field.

“That is what is so great about our team, is that there can be an MVP, anyone in the lineup. Someone could come off the bench and hit a home run to give us a lead,” Jayda Coleman said.

“The trust that we have in each other. Seeing (Sanders) finally break through it is one of the happiest moments. We know how hard she works. Like I’ve said a million times, we see each other day in, day out, struggle, go through a slump, go through a really good high, and go back through a slump again. Seeing her breakthrough on a stage she hasn’t been here before is awesome.”

Now with the lead, Gasso turned to Jordy Bahl to close things out. The Women’s College World Series Most Outstanding Player did as she has the whole tournament and shut things down. Bahl earned the save, tossing three hitless innings in relief. Bahl had one of the best WCWS performances to date as Gasso later explained.

“Jordy Bahl is just an absolute complete athlete. Offense has been — I mean, we faced a few in this tournament, without question, that really challenged us,” Gasso said. “My challenge for Jordy, is to try to make practice as competitive as I can constantly because she thrives. Jayda is the chaos girl. She’s just constantly screaming. Jordy likes that kind of pressure at practice. So I’m always giving her, Okay, bases are loaded, one out, you’re up by two. I’m always giving situations because I think she just really loves to simulate that. When you’re here, when she’s here, this is her playground. This is her heaven right here, at the World Series where it’s real and it’s someone else that we’re competing against.

Oklahoma manufactured a run in the sixth, as Sandercock held the Sooners in check for most of the game. Though the Sooners had their chances earlier too. Oklahoma couldn’t have scripted the start of the third inning any better. The bottom of the order loaded the bases with a walk and two singles. Sandercock had to deal with Coleman and Tiare Jennings without an out. Well, the Florida State ace escaped the jam unscathed. She got Coleman and Jennings to ground out in back-to-back at-bats and induced a fly ball from Haley Lee to end the inning.

As the Sooners have done all season, it appeared for a brief matter of seconds that the Seminoles had translated that momentum into runs. Josie Muffley worked a leadoff walk and Jahni Kerr singled to put two on against Storako. Kalei Harding, who break out in this series in 2021, stepped up to the plate. She drilled the first ball she saw from Storako to the center. But as Coleman inched closer and closer to the wall, we’ve seen how this story ended. Coleman leaped and robbed Harding of a three-run homer. So once again, as incredible as the Big 12 Player of the Year is offensively, she changed the game with her glove.

“I was like, Go get it. Immediately run to the fence,” Coleman said. “But, yeah, it’s really exciting to make those plays. I practice them all the time. But like I say every single time, the best thing out of those plays is watching your teammates react and watching them just be so happy for you. They know how hard we work. I know how hard they work. So when things like those plays come into play on this big stage, I mean, it’s so joyful to watch.”

That’s what makes them so great. The offense has timely hits from every single person. The pitching is incredible throughout the whole staff. Then the defense doesn’t make mistakes and arguably has the best defenders in the nation as the three most prominent positions; center field, shortstop and catcher. Four straight championships aren’t out of the question either. Storako, Lee and Lyons are the only main contributors graduating. Only time will time, but for now the Sooners remain on the throne.

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