OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s road back from the loser’s bracket will have to wait another day.
Due to a rain delay, the if-necessary game between the top-seeded Sooners and tournament Cinderella James Madison Dukes will be postponed until Monday at 3 p.m.
The delay lasted nearly two hours and 45 minutes, and Florida State’s victory which forced an if-game against the Alabama Crimson Tide on the other side of the bracket put the NCAA into a tough spot.
If both if-games were to be played on Sunday night, the action would extend well into Monday morning, compounding on criticisms from Saturday night when Oklahoma State and Florida State did not start until close to midnight.
But if Oklahoma and James Madison were allowed to play and FSU-Alabama was postponed, a competitive advantage would have been created, giving the winner of the Sooners and the Dukes an extra day of rest leading into the Championship Series.
In the end, the determination was to play both if-games on Monday, and shift back the schedule for the title series by one day.
Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso was critical when asked of the NCAA’s determination on Saturday to force the Seminoles and the Cowgirls to play early into the morning.
“I just am shocked that Oklahoma State and Florida State had to play a College World Series game that advances you to the semifinals at close to midnight.,” Gasso said after Sunday’s victory against James Madison.”It doesn't make sense. We're asking questions why, because we can't delay it for another day. That's what we need to do.
“If we're about the welfare of the student-athlete, that is what is being preached to all of us, then do something. Do something. I don't know who needs to do something. But having these guys get home at three in the morning and then prepare for the next day, it completely throws off your rhythm of sleep, hydration, of eating. It wasn't fair to either team to sit around and wait that long.”
Gasso went on to say that not only is delaying the right thing to do for the student athletes, but it would help increase the quality of softball being played at the Women’s College World Series.
“Does it make you tough? Yeah. Does it show like, wow, we're going to fight until the end? Yes. But that's not -- you want to see a World Series where every team is rested and at their best. And we've been doing this for so long, it's tragic,” Gasso said. “It's just ridiculous, really. And I think coaches are really starting to -- we just kind of keep silent but now we're starting to talk about this. It's not fair for our athletes. It's just not.”
All four teams will return to action on Monday night with a bit of rest, and the Sooners can become just the sixth team in WCWS history to lose on day one and battle back to compete for the national title.
Three of the five previous teams to walk that path have won the championship, with Florida State accomplishing the feat most recently in 2018.
Oklahoma’s portion of the proceedings will begin at 3 p.m. Monday from Hall of Fame Stadium, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2.