OU Softball: Why Oklahoma's 'Hard-Fought' Regional Win Was Better Than a Run-Rule

The Sooners won their 14th straight regional championship behind gritty play from Avery Hodge, Tiare Jennings and Kelly Maxwell's save.

NORMAN — Oregon gave the second-seeded Sooners everything they asked for in Saturday and Sunday games, and that’s how Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso preferred it.

The three-time defending national champions defeated Oregon 6-3 on Saturday and 3-2 on Sunday for the Sooners’ 14th consecutive regional title and securing a spot in next week’s super regional.

“It was just a really hard fought, very hot, very hard fought game,” Gasso said after Sunday’s one-run win. “And proud of this group and the fact that we’re getting to a super regional is not easy. It’s not easy. And now that it’s over I can tell you that I really was not comfortable with Oregon being here because I know what Coach Lombardi does with that team and they’re always like that underdog, we’re going to fight you until the end, we’re unafraid. 

“And we needed to feel that. It brought out the best in us."

Saturday, the Sooners appeared vulnerable until Tiare Jennings’ two-run shot in the fifth inning gave Oklahoma a 4-1 lead, and again when the Ducks narrowed the deficit to 3 in the seventh inning. Sunday, Love’s Field’s 4,277 fans could not have felt comfortable before the final out.

Kelly Maxwell was credited with the save. She took over for Nicole May in the sixth inning and gave up only a single hit while the Sooners clung to a 3-2 lead. Jennings’ single brought Jayda Coleman across home plate for the game’s last score in the fourth frame.

Oregon made the Sooners work for it. The Ducks smacked six hits and several times made the Sooners sweat, especially in the third inning when a fielding error helped the Ducks score their final run and Ariel Carlson would have scored a tying run had Rylie Boone not launched a timely throw to Kinzie Hansen at home plate to close the inning.

“Run-rules do not help the Sooners. Run-rules give us false satisfaction that we are that good,” Gasso said. “We need hard-fought games like this to take us to the level we need to. Bringing in the pitchers the way they did was really tough. It’s hard to reset. It’s hard for us to know who it is because they keep changing them all the time. So this game, without question, made us better.”

Sophomore Avery Hodge hit a single on the 12th pitch of a duel with Oregon starter Elise Sokolsky in the second inning and then scored from first on Jayda Coleman’s double.

“Avery Hodge, in my mind today, I've been waiting to see like a burst of emotion and energy and she was fired up and that at-bat was tremendous and it led to a run,” Gasso said.

Next weekend Oklahoma will host the winner of 15-seeded Florida State and Auburn in Super Regional action.

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Bryce McKinnis


Bryce is a contributor for AllSooners and has been featured in several publications, including the Associated Press, the Tulsa World and the Norman Transcript. A Tishomingo native, Bryce’s sports writing career began at 17 years old when he filed his first story for the Daily Ardmoreite. As a student at the University of Central Oklahoma, he worked on several award-winning projects, including The Vista’s coverage of the 2021 UCO cheer hazing scandal. After graduating in 2021, Bryce took his first job covering University of Tulsa and Oral Roberts University sports for the Tulsa World before accepting a role as managing editor of VYPE Magazine in 2022. - UCO Mass Communications/Sports Feature (2019) - UCO Mass Communications/Investigative Reporting (2021) - UCO College of Liberal Arts/Academic presentation, presidential politics and ideology (2021) - OBEA/Multimedia reporting (2021) - Beat Writer, The Tulsa World (2021-2022) - Managing Editor, VYPE Magazine (2022-2023)