NORMAN — Over the course of a given series, the Oklahoma offense has been too much for any and all challengers.
Even in a Super Regional, the No. 16-seeded Washington Huskies, led by National Player of the Year Finalist pitcher Gabbie Plain, were no different.
With a berth in the Women’s College World Series on the line, the top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Sooners slugged their way past the Huskies 9-1 in a five-inning run rule at Marita Hynes Field on Saturday afternoon.
In the process, OU’s Player of the Year Finalist, Jocelyn Alo, made her case for the award. After hitting a home run off the Australian pitcher and drawing a walk in a 1-for-2 performance at the plate in Friday’s Game 1, Alo doubled her home run haul in Game 2.
In the top of the fourth inning, Alo turned on the first pitch she saw from Plain, launching her 30th home run of the season, a two-run blast to extend Oklahoma’s lead to 6-1 and tied her own school record (and Lauren Chamberlain's) for single-season homers.
“She was focused, very focused. I think that she had something to prove,” Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso said after the game. “Although I don't think she's big on awards and things like that, I think she wanted to prove that she's a pretty dang good hitter against any pitcher anytime.”
The bomb punctuated a great day for Alo, who finished 3-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs.
The Sooners jumped on Plain early, this time with no controversy over the size of the batter's box.
After a leadoff double by Tiare Jennings, Alo's single advanced the freshman to third, where she then scored off a wild pitch by Plain.
Then in the bottom of the second inning, Plain walked three straight batters after third baseman Jana Johns got aboard with a single, giving Oklahoma all the cushion they would need.
Plain was then pulled in the third inning, but she would re-enter in the fourth, and was greeted by Alo, who slammed her 30th homer of the year.
“We just we came out here and we did our thing. Like there's nothing more to it. We just were that good,” Alo said after the game. “We really prepared well for this. And (Plain’s) a good pitcher, don't get me wrong. Like obviously she's up for Player of the Year as well, but we're a good hitting team too. So I would take us any day.”
As the Sooner bats got hot, Oklahoma’s pitching again was stellar.
Shannon Saile got the start, and she went the distance. Allowing only four hits, Saile struck out five batters and limited the free passes to just one walk and one hit batter.
Gasso said the performance from Saile after electing to start Nicole May in Game 1 was exactly what she wanted.
“And that is, 'Don't ever question me again. Don't think I can't get this job done. Give me the ball and let me show you what I can do,' ” Gasso said. “Our team fed off of it.
“Shannon really did a great job today with that. And yeah, she's hungry and she took the ball and she just brought it.”
Entering Saturday with 41 walks on the season, Saile has struggled with her control at times, issuing too many free passes to go along with her strikeouts in big moments.
There was no such drama on Saturday, a performance the Sooners can ride all the way to the Women’s College World Series finale if she can replicate it in Oklahoma City.
Alo wasn’t the only Sooner locked in on Plain, as Johns and Kinzie Hansen hit home runs of their own in the run-rule victory.
Johns finished the game 2-for-3 with two RBIs, and Hansen drove in one run on her 2-for-4 day.
Oklahoma now heads to its fifth straight Women’s College World Series, as they’ll head 28 miles north to USA Hall of Fame Stadium to compete for the program’s fifth National Championship.
Alo said the team’s dominant performance should send a message to any team that has to prepare to face the Sooners.
“I think it just sends the message that we want it all,” she said. “We’re ready to go through anyone and everyone. So just kind of staying within ourselves and playing the game that we know how to play, and we'll be celebrating soon.”
The Women’s College World Series begins on June 3.