OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso sat at the Hall of Fame Stadium press conference podium and wanted everyone to know that her team isn't giving up after experiencing their most lopsided loss of the season, a 16-3 WCWS championship blunder in game one at the hands of UCLA.
It's the largest margin of victory in WCWS championship history.
"That's what we were just trying to get out of, probably," Gasso said before pausing to correct herself, "not probably, but the worst game we played all season on the biggest stage. Unfortunately, it happened that way. But it does not define who we are.
"They cleaned our clocks. There's no tiptoeing around it, that's the bottom line."
The Sooners experienced woes in what seemed like every category of softball. Errors plagued the field, the pitching staff had trouble leaving innings and the Sooners' bat knocked in 13 fewer runs than the Bruins.
Here's what Gasso had to say when she took the podium.
The Sooners had just 17 errors all season going into the WCWS. The squad that boasts one of the highest fielding percentages in the country committed three errors in a row in the third inning, leading to two UCLA runs.
A throw from freshman shortstop Grace Lyons that was too high, a dropped ball from senior Caleigh Clifton and a ground ball that went in and out of senior left fielder Falepolima Aviu's glove all happened right after the other, and it seemed to suck the life of out Oklahoma.
"There's nothing in our game that worked tonight, nothing. Our pitching wasn't good. Our defense wasn't good.
"It's very atypical of this team. It happened at the wrong time. But they are not discouraged because those are the lessons that this sport and this program has taught these young women, is that we don't quit.
"I mean, (Clifton) doesn't drop a ball at second on a bunt. She doesn't do that. Grace (Lyons) doesn't overthrow at first. There's things that just were, 'Whoa, what's going on?'
"It seemed to run into every part of our game. Against a team like UCLA, you got to have all three cylinders hitting hard, defense is solid, pitching is strong and on point, aggressive, attacking, and your hitters need to make solid contact, find ways to score runs."
Oklahoma had a team ERA of 1.06, a national best, going into the postseason. Four Sooner pitchers struggled to get out of innings and ultimately tallied up 16 earned runs.
LHP Giselle Juarez threw for four innings and allowed three runs. Junior right-hander Mariah Lopez entered the circle in place of Juarez in the fifth inning and lasted until the sixth, when she left with two outs left in the inning. Lopez allowed three earned runs. Junior Shannon Saile came in to get the final two outs. She left the inning having allowed two home runs and four earned runs, and the score was 11-1.
Gasso put junior centerfielder Nicole Mendes in the circle to finish the game. She allowed five hits and four runs.
"Giselle didn't throw well. It wasn't her night. It just wasn't. It wasn't Mariah's night or Shannon's night. I put Nicole Mendes out there as a sacrificial lamb for this team. Maybe that wasn't fair. There's one young lady that can handle that, and that's Nicole Mendes. She gives her heart and soul. She would do that for the team.
"The last time she pitched, I don't even know when it was. But I needed to get those three off the field and let them just regroup as soon as possible. We might have embarrassed our Sooner Nation, but we're going to do everything we can to make them proud tomorrow."