Natty Patty

Oklahoma Sooners take third consecutive championship title

The Oklahoma Sooners hoist the NCAA Women’s College World Series Trophy as crimson confetti rains down. This marked the Sooners third consecutive national title, and the sixth in the ten years.

Story by Kailyn Williams, Sports Editor

The Oklahoma Sooners drug their season-long domination into the Women’s College World Series, as they capped off the winningest season in softball history with a record of 61-1, clutching their third consecutive NCAA national championship Thursday, June 8, 2023. 

Senior ace Kathryn Sandercock got the start for the home Florida State Seminoles in game two of the championship series, after using three pitchers and taking the loss 5-0 in game one Wednesday, June 7, 2023. 

Sandercock made quick work of the Sooners in the first inning, sitting them down in order. Leadoff junior Jayda Coleman started with a lineout to left field, followed by junior Tiare Jennings with a pop out to second base and finally senior Hailey Lee with a strikeout swinging. 

The Sooners put the ball in the hands of Michigan transfer senior Alex Storako. Storako, with an ERA of 1.71, started the game by giving up a leadoff bloop basehit to junior Kaley Mudge to shallow left field. 

Redshirt sophomore Jahni Kerr dropped down a sacrifice bunt, fielded by third baseman junior Alyssa Brito who, in an attempt to get the lead runner Mudge out at second, threw the ball into center field. 

Now, with two runners on, junior Kalei Harding lined out to third, followed by a ground out to Storako by sophomore Michaela Edenfield and a ground out to second by junior Devyn Flaherty, stranding two Seminoles. The game remained 0-0 after the first. 

The Sooners continued to struggle going into the top of the second inning. After a leadoff single by Brito, senior Kinzie Hansen hit them into a double play, followed by a strikeout from freshman Jocelyn Erickson. 

Storako made for a three-up-three-down inning in the bottom of the second inning, forcing a popout, a lineout and a strikeout. After two innings, the score remained knotted at zero. 

The Sooners made some noise in the top of the third inning, starting with a leadoff walk from sophomore Cydney Sanders. Senior Grace Lyons, after batting just .150 in the postseason, came up big with a long single off of the left field wall. With two runners on and no outs, nine hole senior Rylie Boone came up to the plate, leading the Sooners in almost every offensive stat. Boone dropped down a bunt that rolled up the third baseline chalk, staying fair and loading the bases. 

Sandercock managed to battle off Coleman, forcing a ground ball to first baseman senior Mack Leonard, who got the force out of Sanders at home to save a run. Sandercock forced another ground ball from Jennings to senior Josie Muffley who got the force out of Lyons at home. To end the top of the third, Lee flew out to left field, leaving the Sooners with the bases loaded.

Right now, what you’re feeling from us is freedom, it was absolutely suffocating as we were going along. The expectations were overwhelming, but they handled it like champions and that’s why we are here right now.

— Oklahoma Sooners Head Softball Coach, Patty Gasso

In the bottom of the third inning, Storako issued a walk to the nine hole, senior Josie Muffley. Mudge, in her second at-bat, hit Muffley into a fielder’s choice at second. Kerr scratched off a single to left field. Harding crushed a no-doubt home run to dead center field, only to have it plucked from the air by the Big 12 Player of the Year, Coleman, to save three runs. With two outs, Edenfield grounded into another fielder’s choice at third base, ending the threat for the Sooners, and leaving the score at 0-0. 

Sandercock managed to sit another three straight Sooners, with two groundouts and a strikeout. 

In the bottom of the fourth, the Seminoles went hitless with the exception of a solo shot to right field from senior Mack Leonard, giving the Noles the 1-0, their only run of the series. 

The Sooners went lurking into uncharted territory in the top of the fifth inning, only playing from behind in eight percent of plays in the entire season.

Sanders put the Seminole’s one run lead to rest, tying the game at one with a solo homer of her own.

The Sooners quickly gained the lead off of a second home run from Lyons, giving them the lead 2-1. Sandercock worked out of the inning with a lineout, a groundout and a warning track popout.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Sooners made a pitching change after grasping onto the one run lead, bringing in the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, Jordy Bahl. After getting the complete game shutout in game one, Bahl came out in the fifth and sat three Seminoles in order. 

In the top of the sixth inning. Lee legged out an infield singled, and Bahl came in to pinch run for her. Brito scratched off a line drive single to center field, followed by a sacrifice bunt moving Bahl to third base from pinch hitter sophomore Sophia Nugent. Bahl scored on a single to shortstop by senior Alynah Torres. Sandercock ended the inning with a linedrive out to left, but not before the Sooners could extend their lead to 3-1. 

Sanderock managed to get the three straight outs of the eight, nine and leadoff hitters to get them to their last three outs of the season. 

With three more outs to go, Bahl got the strikeout of the Seminole home run hitter, Leonard, a popout and to cap the season, one last strikeout to secure the national championship. 

The win clutched the winningest record in NCAA Division One softball history, a 53 game winning streak, the sixth national championship in the last decade and the third in a row.