Oklahoma wins record 4th straight NCAA softball title

Published 12:39 am Friday, June 7, 2024

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma slugged its way to a record fourth straight NCAA softball title, getting a go-ahead, bases-clearing double from Cydney Sanders and beating Texas 8-4 on Thursday night for a two-game sweep of the Women’s College World Series championship.

The Sooners won their eighth title overall, all under coach Patty Gasso, and moved into a tie with Arizona for the second-most World Series championships behind UCLA’s 12.

Tiare Jennings, Jayda Coleman, Kinzie Hansen, Rylie Boone and pitcher Nicole May were significant contributors to each of the Sooners’ past four championship teams.

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Kelly Maxwell, an Oklahoma State transfer, was named Most Outstanding Player. She went 3-0 with a save at the World Series, allowing seven earned runs in 27 innings.

Second-seeded Oklahoma (59-7) scored eight runs in each of the two games against top-seeded Texas and pounded 21 hits total against a Longhorns team that came in having thrown three consecutive one-hit shutouts in the World Series.

Kasidi Pickering hit a two-run homer in the second inning for the Sooners, and Ella Parker had a two-run single in the sixth that padded Oklahoma’s lead. Gasso used five pitchers, with Maxwell getting the last four outs for the save a day after her complete-game victory in Game 1.

Texas (55-10) still hasn’t won a national title. The Longhorns lost to the Sooners in the 2022 championship series. This year, Texas won the Big 12 regular-season title, but Oklahoma beat the Longhorns in the Big 12 tournament.

Both programs are leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference next season.

A baserunning mistake by Texas’ Mia Scott ended the Longhorns’ chance of tying the game or taking the lead in the sixth inning. Scott’s two-out, RBI infield single got Texas within 5-4 and advanced Ashton Maloney to third base, but Scott went too far rounding first. Oklahoma second baseman Avery Hodge alertly flipped the ball to first baseman Sanders, who tagged Scott out before she could get back.

Two innings earlier, Hodge’s fielding error allowed Texas to take a 3-2 lead.

Freshman Kayden Henry had two hits for Texas and drove in the Longhorns’ first run.