OKLAHOMA CITY — The Sooners got shut out for the first time all year in their 1-0 loss to Alabama in the Women's College World Series semifinal on Sunday. What was being held back in the Sooners' bats couldn't be contained in their 7-3 payback win over the Crimson Tide just hours later to earn a spot in the WCWS championship against UCLA.
Senior infielder Caleigh Clifton did the scoring for the Sooners in the first inning with an RBI double and wild pitch that allowed the second baseman to steal home. But the bats exploded in the fifth and sixth innings.
Sophomore outfielder Jocelyn Alo hit a monster two-run home run over the centerfield bleachers to put the Sooners up 4-1 in the fifth inning. There hasn't been an exact measurement on the distance of the slam, but the centerfield wall is listed as being 220 feet away from home plate. It went much farther than that. There are rumors that it hit a car. Alo came into the at bat having already struck out twice.
"I came into that at-bat knowing I was not going to be denied again," Alo said. "I just kind of dug down deep and that happened."
Head coach Patty Gasso moved Alo to third in the batting order for game two of Sunday while moving senior Falepolima Aviu down to seventh. After being shut out, Gasso wanted to go into the elimination game with more power.
"I felt like I wanted to move Jocelyn up a little bit," Gasso said. "I just thought putting Fale down in the seven might give us a little additional power there. That was really all that was to it."
More fireworks ensued in the sixth inning, starting with arguably OU's MVP in the WCWS so far, senior centerfielder Nicole Mendes. Mendes hit a two-run home run into left field to put the Sooners up 6-3. In OU's 1-0 loss just hours earlier, Mendes made a heroic diving catch to send the game into extra innings, before Alabama's Caroline Hardy hit a walk-off RBI single. Mendes hit a clutch RBI triple to push Oklahoma past Alabama on day one of the WCWS.
"Something about the World Series brings me to another level," Mendes said. "Again, I've also said this before, but before the World Series, kind of during post-season, I just decided whatever the rest of the season holds, it's up to God. I'm just here, whatever happens happens."
Freshman shortstop Grace Lyons immediately hit a solo home run to make the score 7-3. There was no more scoring after that. Junior RHP kept the Crimson Tide to three runs while junior Shannon Saile got the final three outs of the game, earning the Sooners a spot in the WCWS championship.
The Sooners are set to play UCLA at 6:30 p.m. CT on Monday, June 3, for a best-of-three series.