Oklahoma (57-4) will play UCLA in a best-of-three series starting Monday.
Oklahoma seeks its third WCWS title in four years and its fourth championship this decade. UCLA has 12 national titles, but none since 2010.
“We have got to have some crazy fight,” Gasso said. “I know both teams are a little worn out. You have a chance — there’s two teams that have a chance to win a national championship. There’s no such thing as tired, no such thing as hurt. Nothing like that.”
How we got here:
UCLA qualified when Rachel Garcia’s walk-off homer in the 10th beat Washington 3-0 on Sunday. Garcia also threw 179 pitches and struck out 16 to earn the win.
For Oklahoma, the first game, Alabama pinch hitter Caroline Hardy singled to score Kloyee Anderson in the bottom of the eighth to clinch a 1-0 win for the Crimson Tide.
“That’s what you dream about doing,” Hardy said. “You dream about it as a little kid getting a walk-off hit, your team coming and doing a hug in the middle of the field.”
In the second game, Oklahoma got its offense going. Caleigh Clifton doubled to score Sydney Romero, then Clifton scored on a wild pitch to give the Sooners a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
Oklahoma started Giselle “G” Juarez, but she was replaced in the second inning shortly after giving up a solo homer to Reagan Dykes. Gasso wanted to get a little bit out of her before going to Mariah Lopez. It worked — Lopez got the win after giving up two runs in 4⅓ innings.
Alo’s homer gave the Sooners a cushion, but Skylar Wallace’s two-run homer in the sixth cut Oklahoma’s lead to 4-3.
Oklahoma’s Nicole Mendes answered in the bottom of the sixth with a two-run homer that gave the Sooners a 6-3 edge. Grace Lyons tacked on a solo blast that made it 7-3.
“Once Jocelyn hit that home run, it was like a spark was ignited,” Mendes said. “Once this team gets a spark, it’s really hard to stop us. Definitely made us a lot more free, kind of got the ball rolling.”
Keys Players/Questions :
Rachel Garcia did it all in UCLA’s extra-innings win over Washington, pitching 10 shutout innings, striking out 16 and launching a 3-run homer to win it, driving in all three Bruins runs. Garcia has started every game in the Women’s College Series.
Garcia is hitting .345 now and has gone deep in two of her last five games.
Giselle Juarez is ridiculously good, but you have to wonder if — or when — her workload will catch up to her. We may have seen signs of it in Oklahoma’s second game on Sunday against Alabama.
Juarez pitched well in Game 1, going 7.2 innings and only allowing one run. Juarez started again in Game 2. She only lasted 1.2 innings and got a quick hook.
Can Oklahoma’s offense show up?
There will be opportunities for an Oklahoma offense featuring the likes of Sydney Romero, Caleigh Clifton, Jocelyn Alo and Grace Green. The Sooners slugged .643 as a team this season. They also lead the NCAA in home runs with 111.
Championship Finals (Best-of-3)
Game 1: UCLA vs. Oklahoma | 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 3 | ESPN
Game 2: UCLA vs. Oklahoma | 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4 | ESPN
Game 3: UCLA vs. Oklahoma | 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5 | ESPN(If necessary)
Oklahoma in 3. Their offense took off in Game 2 versus Alabama Sunday night and we believe it won’t slow down soon enough for UCLA to catch up.