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Oklahoma Softball: Sooners routed by UCLA in Game 1 of WCWS Championship Series

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Tuesday is a new day, but it’ll take plenty of mental fortitude to bounce back from this.

Coach Patty Gasso

The Oklahoma Sooners came into Game 1 of the WCWS Championship Series hoping to continue Sunday evening’s momentum and avenge an early-season loss. However, it wasn’t to be, as sloppy play and powerful UCLA bats led to a 16-2 defeat in Oklahoma City.

After appearing to be in command against the first two UCLA batters, Juarez allowed a solo shot to UCLA’s Aaliyah Jordan. However, Shay Knighten evened the score in the bottom of the second with an opposite-field solo shot of her own, and through two innings, both of the series’ all-world pitchers had allowed a home run.

Things got a bit sloppy in the top of the top of the third, as three OU errors in UCLA’s first three at-bats resulted in two runs for the Bruins. This was obviously uncharacteristic for the Sooners, who entered the game leading DI softball in fielding percentage. Juarez then stemmed the tide and retired the next three batters to keep it at 3-1, but that feeling of relief wouldn’t last for long. In the top fourth and fifth, UCLA would get RBIs from Kinsley Washington and Taylor Pack to make this one feel out-of-reach.

In the sixth, Brianna Tautalafua tattooed a Mariah Lopez pitch for a solo shot, further driving home the point on a bad night. Unfortunately, the Bruins weren’t done, hitting two more homers – a three-run and a two-run – in the inning to make it 11-1. The run rule doesn’t exist in the championship series, but I don’t think many of the crimson-clad folks would’ve minded it too much.

OU was able to salvage a tiny bit of pride with Grace Green’s solo homer in the bottom of the sixth, but it was one of only four hits on the night for the No. 1 overall seed. UCLA came back in the top of the seventh with five more runs, bringing their own hit total to 16 in the process.

Before it was all said and done, the Sooners were able to grab another run, but that didn’t keep this one from being the most lopsided loss in the history of the championship series (although it did narrowly keep that from being the case for the WCWS as a whole). This also Oklahoma ‘s first loss in a championship series opener (six appearances).

In the circle, the Sooners used four pitchers on the night. Starter Giselle Juarez went 4.0 innings while five hits, four runs (three earned) and striking out three. Mariah Lopez (1.1 IP, 3 ER), Shannon Saile (0.2 IP, 4 ER) and Nicole Mendes (1.0 IP, 4 ER) came on in relief.

OU and UCLA will be back at it Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. CT as OU tries to stave off elimination. Luckily for the Sooners, tonight’s runs don’t roll over, but one thing’s for sure — it’ll take a ton of mental fortitude for OU to turn things around on Tuesday, but this team is capable of doing such a thing.