OKLAHOMA CITY ̵
Two innings later, the stumbling Sooners showed she was right.
Jocelyn Alo’s two-run home run to right-center at the top of the sixth gave top-seeded OU (55-4) its first lead in two games against 10th-seeded Florida State (49-12-1). Sooners would add three insurance runs to place a 6-2 win and force a winner-all-in-championship competition today at. 14 at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.
OU will seek its fifth national title since 2000.
“The momentum is definitely on our side,” Gasso said afterwards. “This team felt really good, very excited about how they won. Even though it was late in the game, it’s a win that puts us in a championship match to win it all, and that’s a big thing for this group. They struggled very hard all season to get here. So it should be an exciting day tomorrow. “
Through five innings, it looked like the Sooners’ record-breaking season would end with a stroke, despite eclipsing Division I records all the time in the team’s stroke average, slugging percentage, scoring runs and home runs.
All of that changed with a swing of the bat from Alo, who added his single-season record at school by clubbing his 33rd homer. “I knew I was feeling good out there the whole game,” Alo said. “So it was just a matter of staying calm and trying to hit a pitch hard. And I saw it. And I slammed it.”
Instead of stepping into his usual home-run trot, Alo basically jumped around the bases. “I think the last time I circled the bases, which was probably my freshman year, my first ever home run,” Alo said with a smile.
The same thing pushed OU past Hawaii’s previous single-season record of 158, set in 2010, while also setting Sooner’s single-season record for overall runs.
With so much attention focused on OU’s matches at the plate, lost in the mix was another stable performance Sooner’s senior lefthander Giselle juarez (22-1), who has excelled in all four of his WCWS excursions. Juarez spread four hits, hit six and went three in the distance. Her lone hiccup allowed a 2-run homer at the bottom of the other.
“I was just super pumped,” Juarez said of getting the necessary driving support. “My hitters gave us a chance to win that game. I just had to do my job and that was what I did. I’m excited because now we’re right there (for the championship). … I settled me in (after allowing home runs). I think my hitters came up to me and they were like, ‘We have you. We have your back.’ I think for me it was about keeping them in that game. They had my back. They always want my back. “
After hiding in the shadows towards the end of the season, Juarez has thrown himself back into the role of undeniably being the ace of the staff.
“You see one very free Giselle juarez, which is what we saw in 2019, “Gasso said. But it’s another G. It’s very determined, very determined, unaffected right now. It’s really exciting to see it. “
OU has battled early in games throughout WCWS, scoring just 10 runs in total in the first three innings and then adding 34 runs in the final four innings.
After 12 innings of Sooners hitters persistently hitting balls directly at FSU defenders, OU hits suddenly began to find gaps in the final two innings.
The Sooners finished with 11 hits. They had eight hits in the last two innings and could have extended the score if they had not stranded five runners at base. Each starter in the OU lineup now hits at least .300.
Alo went 3 for 3 and scored two runs. First baseman Kinzie Hansen and left field Mackenzie Donihoo each went 2 for 4. Third baseman Jana Johns put OU on the scoreboard with a towering solo shot down the left field line in the third inning.
“It was just a matter of just carrying the flashlight,” Alo said. “One hitter goes, another hitter goes, another hitter goes. So just kind of keep that ball rolling.”
Gasso said, “It was certain Jocelyn Alo that kind of created this energy and everyone just started stepping up behind her. We felt momentum coming. We were just dead silent there for a while. After Jana Johns hit her solo home run it was ground ball after ground ball. Everyone was a little frustrated. We kept trying to gather and talk about things and make adjustments. Things just didn’t work out really well, and that’s a credit to Florida State’s pitching staff. “
Defense also played a key role. After making a season-high three errors in Game One, Sooners was flawless Wednesday.
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