NORMAN — Softball games aren’t decided in the first inning alone, but this year’s Oklahoma team has wasted little time taking early command.
The top-ranked and top-seeded Sooners jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the top half of the first inning Sunday and went on to post a jaw-dropping 20-0 victory over Texas A&M before a sellout crowd of 1,640 at Marita Hynes Field. The victory marked an NCAA record for largest win in tournament history, eclipsing 2015 Georgia’s 17-0 regional win over Western Kentucky.
OU’s 32-minute opening at-bat transpired before the Aggies, designated as the home team for the contest, even had a chance to swing a bat.
“You’re looking for somebody to mishit a ball or hit it right to somebody. It just didn’t happen,” Aggies coach Jo Evans said afterward. “Every ball found a hole.”
It was simply a continuation of OU’s overwhelming domination in the opening frame this season. The Sooners have now outscored opponents 103-2 in the first inning, which included a 13-0 advantage at the NCAA Norman Regional.
“When we put up nine (runs) — or whatever it was — it’s kind of hard to know what to do next,” Sooners coach Patty Gasso said. “That fueled us … and it’s hard (for an opponent) to dig out of that.”
When informed of her team’s 101-run, first-inning advantage, Gasso sheepishly looked down and shook her head in disbelief. “I didn’t know that,” Gasso said. “I don’t get with that stuff. Our players do things — if I put it all together — I’d be like, ‘Wow,’ so I don’t even pay attention to it.”
OU now advances to its 12th straight NCAA Super Regional and will host Central Florida in a best-of-three series that begins next weekend with days and times to be announced.
If the defending national champion Sooners are victorious at next weekend’s Super Regional, they will make their 15th Women’s College World Series appearance overall and seek their sixth NCAA crown, which would give them four of the last six championships.
Making Sunday’s result particularly astonishing is the fact just 24 hours earlier, OU held on for a 3-2 victory over Texas A&M.
Any thoughts of the Aggies (31-28) avenging the one-run loss had all but disintegrated by the time they stepped to the plate for the first time.
“What makes them so good is their ability to make adjustments one game to the next, and they did a good job of that,” Evans said.
OU scored in every inning while right-handed sophomore starter Nicole May surrendered just two hits and faced one more the minimum number of batters in 4 1/3 innings before Gasso inserted seldom-used junior right-hander Macy McAdoowho had just three appearances during the regular season and none since March 18 against Sam Houston State.
“She was ‘a boss’ is the best way to say it,” Gasso said of May. “A good mix of pitches. Efficient. Effective.”
The Sooners have now won by run-rule in 37 of their 54 games (.685). While tying its second-highest run total of the season, OU collected 12 hits and three home runs. Texas A&M aided the Sooners’ cause by committing four errors.
“It was definitely passing the torch,” Gasso said of her team’s prolific offense. “Top to bottom, there’s RBIs throughout, there’s hits throughout. It was just a suffocating offense today.”
OU super senior and home-run record holder Jocelyn Hello went 3 for 3 with 3 RBI and three runs scored. Hello’s 115th career home run came in every second at-bat. Her first hit of the game was a line drive that smacked hard halfway up the outfield wall in left. Had that ball flown 4 feet higher, Hello would have homered twice in the same inning.
Hello also hit a towering home run down the left-field line in the fifth inning that looked fair but was ruled foul. Asked if she thought her potential second home run was fair, Alo said, “I did think it was … I watched it.”
“She’s made differently,” Gasso said of Alo, who raised her batting average to an even .500 on the season, a plateau that is far feasible for a slap-hitting speedster rather than the NCAA’s career home run queen. “She She does n’t get too high. She She does n’t get too low. She Does n’t overthink it, but she she’s always ready. She She always feels and knows she’s going to win.”
Tiare Jennings also homered and finished 2 for 4 with three RBI and three runs scored. leftfielder Alyssa Brito was 2 for 3 with a home run, four RBI and three runs scored. jana johns and Taylon Snow added two RBI each.
“It’s probably one of our most complete efforts in all phases of our game, top to bottom,” Gasso said. “Fans were on fire. We were fired up.”
The status of Big 12 Co-Pitcher of the Year Jordy Bahl remains uncertain. The freshman All-American righthander an undisclosed injury to her throwing arm and has not pitched since May May is doing some movement and we are just going to remain hopeful that she’s going to be ready to go,” Gasso said of Bahl possibly returning to action next weekend.
NOTES & NUMBERS
• Oklahoma advanced to its 12th consecutive and 15th overall NCAA Super Regional.
• The Sooners broke an NCAA postseason record for largest win in tournament history, besting 2015 Georgia’s 17-0 regional win over Western Kentucky.
• OU improved its program-record run-rule mark to 37.
• The Sooners collected its 31st shutout for a new school record, passing the 1997 and 2018 teams’ 30.
• Oklahoma put up nine runs on five hits and three errors in the first inning. It was the third-highest run total in one frame of the season and tied for the most in a first inning on the year.
• Seven Sooners brought in at least one run in the frame, capped by redshirt senior Jocelyn Hello’s 27th home run of the season and 115th of her career.
• Seven Sooners registered a hit in the contest and nine brought in at least one run, highlights by four RBIs from Brito and three from Alo and Jennings.
• OU’s three home runs was the 25th time this season the Sooners have hit three-plus and the 34th multi-homer game.
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