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Oklahoma Softball: OU’s season ends in walk-off defeat to UCLA

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OU fought hard in game 2, but the Sooners ended up falling in dramatic fashion.

Coach Patty Gasso

With a final record of 57-6, an incredible season has come to an end for the Oklahoma Sooners. Following Monday evening’s 16-3 debacle, OU fought tough but ended its campaign with a 5-4 walk-off defeat in Game 2 of the Women’s College World Series Championship Series.

After a promising start in the form of a Sydney Romero leadoff double, OU once against struggled to get a runner home from scoring position. That proved costly once again, as UCLA opened the bottom half with consecutive homers from Bubba Nickles and Brianna Perez. Following a pair of retired batters, the Bruins were able to load the bases before Giselle Juarez got out of the inning with a groundout.

In the second inning, Juarez steadied a bit with a 1-2-3 inning before Sydney Romero was able to make it 2-1 with a solo shot of her own in the top of the third. With Clifton on first, Jocelyn Alo nearly gave OU a 3-2 lead with some opposite-field power. However, a hard-hit ball was caught at the warning track for the second consecutive evening, and it always feels a bit shocking when it happens to her.

In the bottom half, UCLA replied with yet another solo shot, this time from Aaliyah Jordan, but Juarez was later able to get out of yet another bases-loaded jam to keep the Sooners within striking distance.

In the top of the fourth, the OU bats finally began to get to UCLA pitcher Rachel Garcia. Four consecutive one-out hits – including a Lindsey Elam double to tie the game – had OU in business, and the bases would be loaded after Romero was intentionally walked. This time, it was Garcia’s turn to get out of the bases-loaded jam, retiring Clifton and Alo to end the threat.

In the bottom of the fifth, a Brianna Tautalafua solo shot – the Bruins’ fourth such homer of the night -- gave UCLA the lead once again. That eventually set things up for Shay Knighten’s seventh-inning heroics.

Unfortunately, things fell through in the blink of an eye.

With a runner on second a one out, Grace Lyons made a heady play to throw to third for the second out. However, a wild pitch allowed Jacqui Prober to reach second, and she made it all the way home on Kinsley Washington’s single to left.

Oklahoma was unable to add a fifth national championship this season, but this team should be commended for how well it battled back from adversity during the postseason. OU faced elimination games on three occasions, winning the first two and dropping the second on a two-out walk-off. Accomplished seniors Romero, Knighten and Clifton have no reason to hang their heads.

With as much talent as OU is returning (as well as how well Gasso and her staff recruit), it’s safe to say that the Sooners should make yet another deep run next season. This was a tough way to see the season end, but the OU softball machine will continue to roll for years to come.