Any designs Oklahoma has on claiming its second national championship in softball will have to wait for at least one more day after Alabama evened its championship series with the Sooners in the Women's College World Series with an impressive 8-6 victory over of OU Tuesday night in Oklahoma City in a game that wasn't as close as the final score might indicate.
The way this series is going, you don't want to be the team that gets on the scoreboard first. Alabama broke a scoreless tie in Game One on Monday night, pushing across a single run in the fourth, but the Sooners erased that the very next inning and were never headed from there.
On Tuesday, OU Sooners took a quick 1-0 lead in the bottom half of the first inning after Alabama had loaded the bases in the top half of the inning but failed to score. As it turned out, the first inning was just a taste of what lay ahead for Sooner star Keilani Ricketts, the winning pitcher in OU's 4-1 Game One victory. Ricketts didn't make it out of the fourth inning Tuesday evening, as Alabama refused to roll over, scoring four times in the second and four more times in the fourth to jump out to a seven-run lead that set Oklahoma on its heels.
The Southeastern Conference champions played like the higher-seeded team that they are (No. 2) Tuesday, dominating the Sooners in practically all phases of the game. OU showed little life throughout much of the game, although the Sooners did manage nine hits to the Crimson Tide's four. Oklahoma refused to go down quietly, though, and put a mild scare into the Tide with a five-run seventh, but the rally fell short and Alabama survived by a final count of 8-6 to see another day.
"This was a very uncharacteristic game for us," OU head coach Patty Gasso said. "We needed to make Alabama work a little harder for their opportunities."
"They (OU) left a ton of people on base yesterday (Monday). We come up with two outs and the bases loaded (Tuesday) and score six runs. So it's a strange game, softball," said Alabama coach Patrick Murphy.
The winner of Wednesday night's game between these two conference champions will decide the 2012 WCWS championship. The Sooners (54-9) are hoping for their second national championship, and Alabama (59-8) is seeking its first national title in softball.
Alabama becomes only the second team from the SEC to play a Game Three in the championship series of the WCWS. Tennessee was the other SEC team to play a deciding third game in the final round, losing to Arizona in 2007.
Wednesday night will be a huge night in Oklahoma City, and potentially one of the greatest nights in the city's sports history. While the hometown Sooners and Crimson Tide are battling for the WCWS championship at ASA Hall of Fame Park, just a few miles away at Chesapeake Energy Arena, the NBA Oklahoma City Thunder have a chance to close out the championship series with the San Antonio Spurs, the team with the best record in the NBA this shortened season, and advance to the NBA Finals as Western Conference champion.
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