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Sooners come back, win it all, because it's just what they do
Coach Patty Gasso's program claims seventh national title, third straight.
OKLAHOMA CITY — They won because of the mound mastery of Jordy Bahl, of course. In this Women’s College World Series, she allowed no runs, earned or otherwise.
They won because, just like last season, the brought an historic lineup to the plate, leading the nation in every meaningful offensive category.
They won because, who’s kidding who, nobody’s as talented as them.
Who they fail to bring to campus out of high school, they succeed in corralling through the transfer portal because dang near anybody who can play for Oklahoma eventually wants to.
They won for all of those reasons, but they won for this one, too.
It’s what they do.
It’s in their bones and their souls and it was again Thursday night at Hall of Fame Stadium where coach Patty Gasso’s Sooners, topping Florida State 3-1, claimed the program’s seventh national championship, it’s fifth since 2016 and it’s third straight with no end in sight, a Palo Alto pitcher named NiJaree Canady notwithstanding.
It’s becoming old hat.
Not that it looks it.
When Bahl, in relief of Alex Storako since the fifth, struck out Florida State’s Katie Dack to end the game and season swinging through a dancing changeup, Kinzie Hansen threw the ball in the air and headed for Bahl, arriving about the same time as Cydney Sanders, coming over from first base.
The three embraced, and soon it was everybody, gloves flung, joining them. Though no dogpile appeared planned, the excited group hug, sort of in slow motion, toppled toward the the third base line.
Altogether, they celebrated together.
Perhaps not like they’d done something for the first time, but still like it was all they ever wanted, like it never gets old. Not like they were relieved, but like they were filled by the greatest joy.
Five pitchers before Bahl had thrown more than 20 World Series innings without allowing a run, but none since 1992, a long time ago, and Bahl dealt 24 2/3.
A class by herself.
But she's just a part of the story.
Because this is what they do.
Thursday, it was the fifth inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, Mack Leonard, the Seminole starting pitcher the night before, pulled a line drive over right field and out of the park off Storako and, for a moment, OU was behind.
Then came the Sooners.
First batter up, Sanders, the only one in the Sooner lineup not hitting .300 up and smashed a no-doubt home run into the right field bleachers.
Second batter up, Grace Lyons, the Cal Ripken of the roster, who can really hit, though she’s much more famous for her glovework, turned on her own pitch and launched a home run over left field.
Sooners on top.
“That’s what’s so great about our lineup,” Jayda Coleman said.
Sanders and Lyons batted seventh and eighth and went a combined 3 for 5 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Coleman and Tiare Jennings entered hitting .417 and .422 and went a combined 0 for 7 with no RBIs and no runs scored.
It’s always somebody.
It’s what they do.
It’s what they did on April 1 against Texas, down 3-1 entering the bottom of the seventh only to come back and beat the Longhorns with a two-run shot from Coleman and an RBI single from Hansen.
It’s what they did on May 6, in Stillwater, trailing 2-0 entering the top of the seventh, when a torrent of hits and RBIs from Alynah Torres, Jennings and Sanders turned it into a 4-2 victory.
It’s what they did at the Norman Super Regional, May 27, when a three-run seventh-inning shot from Hansen tied it and a ninth-inning solo from Jennings won it, dispatching Clemson.
They’re historically great.
The best college team ever to play the game: one, because they very well may be and if they’re not they’re probably looking up at another set of Sooners; two, because not until somebody wins every single game can anybody else be placed in the slot.
They’re the best.
Even better than the sum of their parts.
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In the interview room, when it was all over, when it was only Gasso; Lyons, Coleman, Jennings and Bahl having departed, the coach took a moment for herself.
“The expectation is overwhelming,” she said. “The pressure is overwhelming.”
It makes sense.
She built the program.
The stadium OU plays in next season will be the second ballpark her success has built.
Everybody wants her to win so badly.
Though she keeps winning, what’s required to keep winning never wanes.
Her team and her players?
It was not overwhelmed.
They did not seem to feel the pressure.
They just won.
It’s what they do.