Was it rage? Was it relief?
Either way, it was another run-rule.
No. 1-ranked Oklahoma saw its 40-game winning streak and perfect 33-0 start come crashing down on Tuesday in an extra-inning loss to Georgia — and then promptly smashed the Bulldogs 12-3 in the nightcap at Jack Turner Softball Stadium in Athens.
OU (34-1) took a midweek trip deep into SEC territory to boost its RPI against the 20th-ranked Bulldogs (28-12). The winning streak is over, but the trip ultimately will elevate the Sooners’ status — both in the NCAA’s eyes, and probably in their own.
"I was proud of them coming back," coach Patty Gasso said. "Because it was a hard-fought first game. You could feel that. So I was proud of that. And with the way their bodies were feeling, I could see that things weren’t moving the way they wanted it to move, but it’s very much like that when you’re in postseason. Your body is just spent, and you’ve got to figure out how to make your body do things that maybe it doesn’t feel like doing. And that’s what I felt was happening today.
"So it was good. It was good for us. And I appreciate the opportunity to play Georgia. They’ve got a good pitcher who is probably one of the toughest pitchers we’ve faced thus far. She really did a good job against us. You know, we just — it’s showing us that we need to get better. We need to get better. We’re not good enough. We need to get better. And they all agree. This team agrees. I think this could end up being one of the most rewarding weekends, just from what we’ve learned from it, of any weekend we’ve had thus far."
Oklahoma’s record-setting offense was shackled in the opening game, but it took no time at all to get the bats warm in Game Two.
In the first inning, Grace Lyons’ one-out single scored Jocelyn Alo, and Jayda Coleman’s single up the middle brought home Lyons and Kinzie Hansen for a 3-0 lead. Mackenzie Donihoo followed with a two-run single through the right side that scored Lynnsie Elam and Coleman to put the Sooners up 5-0.
Three more runs followed in the second. Coleman drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 6-0, Elam singled home Alo for a 7-0 lead, and Donihoo walked with the bases full to put the Sooners on top 8-0.
And in the third, Lyons drew a bases-loaded walk for a 9-0 lead, Coleman delivered an RBI single through the right side to score Alo to put OU up 10-0, and Lyons and Hansen came home on Donihoo’s ground ball to second base that resulted in a throwing error for a 12-0 Sooner advantage.
Georgia, which played almost flawless in the first game (save for a home run that was taken off the board when Jaiden Fields forgot to touch home plate), suffered an avalanche of mistakes in the nightcap.
Four Bulldog pitchers issued nine walks, and the Georgia defense committed three fielding errors that led to three unearned runs.
Coleman and Donihoo each had four RBIs, and Coleman and Elam led the Sooners with two hits each. Lyons also had two RBIs and scored twice, and Alo and Hansen each scored three runs.
Three Sooner pitchers — Shannon Saile, Brooke Vestal and Alanna Thiede — shut down the Bulldog lineup in Game Two before Thiede gave up two walks and a three-run home run by Sydney Kuma in the fifth. Thiede then got the final two outs to end it.
Oklahoma returns to action on Friday when the Sooners begin a three-game Big 12 Conference series at home against Texas Tech.
Gasso reaffirmed that after 23 (now 24) run-rule victories, the Sooners absolutely needed to be thrown in the fire. No one in Norman wants this season to end short of a national championship, and playing two games in Athens against the talented Bulldogs is the closest the Sooners will get to that during this regular season.
"This trip was necessary," Gasso said. "A hundred percent. And we knew that we were kind of walking into a trap. But what was important for us was to see how it feels when your body’s maybe not all there. But I mean, we just flat-out got — we got beat (in the opener). We weren’t in that competitive spirit the way we needed to be, but we needed to feel what that felt like and learn from it. So I don’t regret one thing. You know, taking this trip was important for us to learn."