Back at the World Series, Jordy Bahl answers all the questions
Sooners move past Stanford, earning day off behind five-hit, 11-strikeout shutout
One of the great things about being Jordy Bahl is never having to face the nation’s most dangerous diamond offense.
In practice, perhaps, sure, all the time, but it’s not the same, not for real and doesn’t count.
No, she can’t face the nation’s most dangerous diamond offense because the players who make it up are her teammates. And for that reason, nor can we know if she might be the nation’s best pitcher.
She might be.
We can’t know.
In Thursday’s Women’s College World Series opener against Stanford, Bahl’s 2-0 five-hit, 11-strikeout, one-walk, one hit batter shutout kept Oklahoma in the winner’s bracket and earned the Sooners a day off.
Also, Bahl lowered her season earned run average rom 1.08 to 1.03.
Terrific, but not unprecedented.
Bahl’s teammate, Nicole May, in about 27 fewer innings than Bahl’s 129 2/3, sports a 0.82 ERA. Another teammate, Alex Storako, despite carrying a 1.13 ERA, carried a 0.52 against Big 12 Conference foes, better than Bahl’s 0.70 against the same foes.
Then there’s the pitcher Bahl faced Thursday, Cardinal freshman NiJarre Canady, who brought a nation’s best 0.48 into the altercation and lived up to her accolades, allowing four hits, one earned run, striking out seven against a single walk over five innings.
The Sooners made her work ridiculously hard, sometimes forcing double-digit-pitch at bats despite never being ahead in the count, which is dang near impossible, but not if you foul off five, six or seven two-strike pitches.
But Canady wouldn’t crater.
Even OU’s game-winning hit, a sharp fifth-inning single to left field from Jada Coleman, should have produced a close play at the plate, Ellee Eck trying to nab Sooner pinch-runner Avery Hodge.
Instead, Eck let the ball get past her, Hodge scored easily and so did Rylie Boone behind her.
So, if you’re trying to appoint Jordi Bahl the finest pitching practitioner in the game, go ahead, you might be right.
But you can’t know.
Here, though, is what you can.
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Finally, she was pitching in the World Series when it really mattered. Finally, we got to see her when her mound opponent might be every bit as good as she is and maybe a touch better.
Finally, we weren’t left to project what might happen when the Sooner sophomore with all the charisma, who waves her right hand before winding the same way Jimmy Connors waved his racket in his left hand before serving, met the moment all fantastic pitchers must meet to see how they really fare when its their turn to find out.
She was stellar.
She was tremendous.
She was indomitable.
It may still not be clear what kind of pitcher Bahl is. She throws hard but is she a flamethrower? She moves the ball around and changes speed, does that make her a wily vet? She struck out 11, but is that her whole game?
She’s not Monica Abbott.
She’s not Cat Osterman.
She’s not all heat.
The great thing about the diamond?
Questions like that don’t matter as long as you get people out.
Bahl shut out Stanford the way she dang near shut out UCLA (4-1) on Feb. 12, 2022, the third game of her freshman season in Irvine, California; the way she shut out Texas (3-0) two months later in Austin before the Sooners and Longhorns played for the national championship two months later.
She shut out the Cardinal the way she shut out Auburn (5-0) over fine innings on March 18 in Oklahoma City and the way she shut out LSU (3-0) on April 11 in Baton Rouge.
But those games were not this game, played in front of more than 12,000 and maybe millions watching at home.
Still, she did her thing.
Stanford put runners at first and second base with one out in the first, fourth and fifth innings. That’s six chances a mere single would could have put the Cardinal ahead.
What happened those six at-bats?
• Sacrifice bunt.
• Pop out to left field.
Gasso now has a question to answer.
Though she’s famously promised never to put a pitcher through what she put Paige Parker through the second day of the 2018 World Series, leaving her in the circle to throw every pitch in two different elimination games — Parker delivered two amazing two-hit shutouts — she could absolutely come back with Bahl Saturday against Tennessee.
Idle days have been built into the winners’ schedules. Now you really can throw one pitcher the whole way without overtaxing.
What should Gasso do?
Have you seen Nicole May’s earned run average?
Have you seen Alex Storako’s?
Leave it to the coach.
What matters is Jordi Bahl, at the peak of her powers, finally got to pitch on the game’s greatest stage, she killed it and it was fabulous.