Discover more from Oklahoma Columnist, by Clay Horning
Without Bahl, Trautwein gives Sooners more hope after responding to Aggies threat
On a day Hope Trautwein had to respond to keep her team on schedule at the Norman Regional, Sooners exited better than they entered because she did
Believe it or not, there was a moment, or several of them, it appeared that not only would Texas A&M become Oklahoma’s 36th run-rule victim, but the final spread might be 15 or 20 before it could be invoked.
Because if you can’t get any outs, well … how else could it go?
That’s where the Aggies were.
That’s where the Sooners were.
The second day of the NCAA’s Norman Regional, a winners’ bracket contest in which OU ultimately did enough to prevail 3-2, pushing the Sooners a victory from moving into the super regional round, that’s how it began.
The sixth pitch thrown and still the first batter faced by Aggie starter Grace Uribe, Sooner lead-off hitter Jayda Coleman dispatched it high and out of the park over the left-field wall.
Three pitches later, Jocelyn Alo smacked a single down the right-field line.
Four pitches after that, Tiare Jennings ripped a single to right-center field.
That’s how it began.
The Sooners were unloading verbs upon Uribe’s pitches: smack, crush, rip, stung, barreled, squared, rocked and knocked.
Then A&M made a play.
The pitch after Jennings reached, Grace Lyons plastered the ball inches left of the first “O" in “SOONERS” printed along the outfield wall from left- to right-center field.
Alo scored from third base, but Jennings did not score from first, getting thrown out by A&M shortstop Koko Wooley, who fired a strike from short-left field to Aggie catcher Haley Lee.
You’re never supposed to make the first out of an inning at home plate and you’re really not supposed to make the first out of the game there and you’re probably never, ever, ever supposed to do it when you’ve got the most explosive offense in the whole sport, yet that’s what the Sooners did, Uribe relaxed a bit and the damage was limited to two runs.
Because it was, and because more terrific execution from A&M led to Coleman being thrown out at third base for the third out of the fourth inning … when Lee took Sooner starter Hope Trautwein deep over the left field wall for a two-run shot in the sixth, the super senior transfer pitcher who arrived at OU from North Texas was forced to get the game’s last five outs with no wiggle room to spare.
She did and that she did was the big Sooner story coming out of Marita Hynes Field Saturday afternoon.
“When you get beat,” Trautwein said, “you’ve just got to come back the next pitch.”
In fact, she did a little more than that, retiring the last five Aggies she faced. None by strikeout, which is kind of interesting, though just one ball was hard hit, a Makinzy Herzog liner Sooner second baseman Tiare Jennings speared for the second out of the seventh inning.
Trautwein was asked about the weight of the moment, which suddenly became all to real after OU began the day by knocking the cover off the ball only to end it having scored just a single run since the first inning, trying to nurse home a one-run victory, something it hadn’t done since eclipsing Utah 2-1 way back on Feb. 27 in Palm Springs.
“I didn’t think there was more pressure after that … the whole game is pressure,” Trautwein said. “This is regionals, this is the postseason.
While OU so clearly appears to be the program that must be gone through to claim the national championship this season, it's also the time when the Sooners must prove to themselves and those who might come after them they’re indeed that team.
It’s a quest that may be made easier by the return of freshman pitcher Jordi Bahl, about which Gasso has expressed recent optimism. Still, it’s not clear Bahl will be back nor that she’ll be effective should she try, leaving the fort to be protected from the circle by Trautwein and sophomore Nicole May.
May was quite good against mediocre competition on Friday, allowing no hits over four innings to Prairie View A&M. Trautwein was pretty good, too, against the Aggies, a legit dangerous team. Yet, far more important than that was Trautwein responded, rising to the level the moment required, allowing three hits and two runs over the first 5 1/3 innings and none and none over the final 1 2/3.
“At practice, she gives up a home run,” Gasso said, “she comes back that much stronger … I had no concerns.”
She may have been the only one.
But Trautwein still passed the test and her team is better for it.
This time of year, it's what you want.
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At Marita Hynes Field
Oklahoma 3, Texas A&M 2
Minnesota 13, Prairie View A&M 1
Texas A&M 10, Minnesota 7
Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M, 1 p.m.
Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M, if necessary
In case you missed it
Sooner dominance hardly fair, April 9