After rainstorms cancelled Oklahoma's Women's College World Series match against Alabama, shortly after it began, on Thursday night, the two teams picked up where they left off on Friday, with the Sooners coming up to bat in the bottom of the second but it would be the dramatic extra-inning finish that brought everyone to their feet.
Pitchers Paige Parker and Alexis Osorio produced one of the most epic duels of the postseason with the two combining to allow just seven total hits and three runs. Those three runs came in the bottom of the eighth when Oklahoma's Shay Knighten sent the ball over the right field wall for a 3-run walk-off homer. It was the second hit of the game for Knighton, and just the third overall for Oklahoma, but it would be the Shot Heard `Round the World Series as it sent the Sooners to the winner's bracket and the Crimson Tide to the loser's side.
"Wow! Just a tough, tough game," A relieved Oklahoma Head Coach Patty Gasso said afterwards, "a tough way to get started in the College World Series, two teams that are very good and fighting against each other." Alabama had knocked the Sooners out of the Super Regional in 2015 and this was the second time the two teams had faced one another this year, with Oklahoma also winning that one on a Knighten walk-off home run, 2-0.
"I didn't even remember that game," Knighten said, "That was the farthest thing from my mind. It was just be in the moment, do it for my team." The fans remembered though, and neither had Alabama. "In post season softball there's three things, starting pitching, team defense, and timely hitting," Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said, "and they got three for three and we were two out of three."
"They just got that timely hit they needed with runners in scoring position," Alabama pitcher Alexis Osorio added about the walk-off.
Up until the game-ending homer it was all about the ladies in the circle who had pitched 15 combined innings of shutout softball, with a total of 17 strikeouts between them. Ten of those punch outs came at the hands of Osorio who was frustrating Oklahoma with her rise ball. "I can't even tell you how hard it is to hit off her," Gasso said, "We worked real hard to prepare for her and still struck out 10 times."
Oklahoma's Paige Parker was able to match Osorio out-for-out and even rose to the occasion multiple times when she found herself in a jam. "She had great command," Alabama's Haylie McCleney said. "She was keeping us off balance with her change up, she consistently kept us guessing."
"What's important at the World Series is that you leave everything on the field in every game that you play," Gasso said. There's no questioning that's what these two pitchers did and so did the girls that back them up. There's also no questioning that these two are most likely going to see each other at least one more time in this World Series.