OKLAHOMA CITY — In three different innings, Giselle Juarez repeatedly had to get three outs with a runner on base. She and her defense always left them stranded.
Three of the junior left-hander's four hits given up came against leadoff hitters. In the bottom of the third, Juarez allowed a bunt single from Oklahoma State's Chelsea Alexander to start the inning. Juarez didn't sweat it. She struck out the next two batters, and sophomore catcher Lynnsie Elam threw out Alexander trying to steal second.
After allowing an RBI single in the first inning to give the Cowgirls their lone run, Juarez went on to allow a leadoff single in the fifth inning and a double to start the sixth. A flurry of strikeouts left those runners on base to end inning. She finished with 11 to lead the Sooners to a 6-1 win over Oklahoma State in the Women's College World Series in front of a record WCWS crowd of 9,820. Junior right-hander Shannon Saile would relieve for Juarez to get the last three outs of the game, tallying two strikeouts.
"I would just say, like, for me, it just came down to getting us back in the dugout," Juarez said. "(My teammates) kept saying to me, 'We got you, we're going to get you runs.' Just trusting that, knowing they have my back, I have theirs, is the biggest thing."
Juarez's teammates delivered with hot bats in the first inning and manufactured runs in the sixth.
Senior outfielder Falepolima Aviu started the top of the first inning with a one-out double and senior second baseman Caleigh Clifton got on base with a walk. Both seniors advanced on wild pitches, and sophomore outfielder Jocelyn Alo scored both runners with an RBI single. Senior Shay Knighten scored Alo on an RBI single to score the final run of the inning, and the Sooners were up 3-0.
Three insurance runs that came from two walks and a hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded would do the rest. Eight Sooners had a hit on the night.
"There were some clutch hits going on," head coach Patty Gasso said. "That along with some really, really good defense. I thought Lynnsie Elam did a good job behind the plate. Some really strong defensive plays. It was a really well-played game."
Oklahoma State pitcher Samantha Show, who hit two home runs in the Cowgirls' 2-1 win against Florida just a day prior, went 0-3 and struck out twice against Juarez.
"Well, I know she's a good hitter. She proves that," Juarez said. "I think it was just keeping her off balance especially, just trusting my pitches against her, going right at her."
Juarez kept everyone off balance as the game went on. She struck out 10 of her last 12 batters, and the Sooners are now just one win away from the WCWS Championship Finals.
The Sooners will play at 2:30 p.m. CT on Sunday, June 2, against an opponent that will be revealed with Saturday's game 10 result.