Softball Live Blog: Oklahoma One Win Away From Fourth Straight National Title

The Sooners rolled Texas in Game 1 of the WCWS Championship Series, pulling within reach of the program's eighth national championship.
Oklahoma's Tiare Jennings celebrates her home run in Game 1 of the WCWS Championship Series.
Oklahoma's Tiare Jennings celebrates her home run in Game 1 of the WCWS Championship Series. / BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY

OKLAHOMA CITY — Ryan Chapman and John Hoover offer their real-time observations as the Oklahoma Sooners take on the Texas Longhorns at Devon Park, formerly USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium, in the second game of the 2024 WCWS Championship Series. Newest posts are at the top. Just keep the browser open and refresh often for Chapman and Hoover’s updates throughout this afternoon's contest. 

9:53 p.m.

The Sooners are champions again. Oklahoma knocks off Texas 8-4 to win a fourth-straight title.

9:44 p.m.

No run-rule. Kelly Maxwell time. 

— RC 

9:39 p.m.

Ella Parker, what a player. 

Two-RBI double after fouling off a couple of strikes. OU’s lead up to 8-4.

— RC 

9:35 p.m.

Coleman. RBI-single. Insurance secured — with the possibly of more. 

Tiare Jennings up with the bases still loaded. 

— RC 

9:34 p.m.

Avery Hodge wears one to load the bases and “O-U!” chants have broken out while Texas talks things over in the circle. 

Jayda Coleman stepping up with one out. 

— RC 

9:30 p.m.

Another Rylie Boone challenge for the OU outfielder leaving early. 

Can’t take the challenges with you I guess, but the ruling on the field stands. 

She’s still on first. 

— RC 

9:24 p.m.

What an odd sequence. 

Hodge recorded an error on Scott’s dribbler (though it was officially scored as a single), allowing a run to score. 

But for some reason, Scott rounded first. Hodge flipped the ball over to Sanders and she tagged Scott out for the final out of the inning. Bizarre. 

Sooners up 5-4 looking for some insurance before Kelly Maxwell tries to close out the title. 

— RC 

9:19 p.m.

Nicole May, cool as you like. 

She strikes out Dayton, two outs. Patty Gasso walking to the circle to bring in Kelly Maxwell. 

— RC 

9:17 p.m.

Oklahoma’s outfield was playing in and Maloney did a great job to just find grass and roll the ball to the wall. 

Two runners now in scoring position for Bella Dayton with one out. 

— RC 

9:15 p.m.

Nicole May battles back from a leadoff walk with a strikeout. Huge. 

Ashton Maloney up to bat for Texas. 

— RC 

9:09 p.m.

May returns to start the sixth. 

Sooners on top 5-3.

— RC 

8:56 p.m.

Nicole May with a 1-2-3 inning and a pair of strikeouts. Pretty good. 

— RC 

8:50 p.m.

And now Nicole May enters the circle. 

She went five up, five down against Texas in the Big 12 Tournament Championship, now she’ll need nine outs. 

— RC 

8:44 p.m.

Your unsung heroes tonight are Karlie Keeney, Avery Hodge, Paytn Monticelli and now, Cydney Sanders.

Sanders provides a three-run double to give the Sooners a 5-3 lead and, frankly, I’m not sure there’s much Texas can do about it at this point.

When those players are delivering key plays for a team loaded with this unbelievable senior class and so many All-Americans, what chance do the Longhorns have?

— JH

8:43 p.m.

Huge moment for Cydney Sanders. 

The OU first baseman deals a bases-clearing double to put the Sooners back on top 5-3.

Still just one out in this inning, but surely it’s Kelly Maxwell time in the fifth. 

— RC 

8:41 p.m.

Boone one-hops a single to first base, then beats out the first baseman to load the bases with one out.

She might have hit her top speed right there.

Sanders coming up.

— JH

8:39 p.m.

Brito’s flyout to deep right-center would have been useful with that Kinzie Hansen single to left. Pickering flares a single on a first pitch from Czech and the Sooners have the bottom of the lineup coming up. One out, two on.

— JH

8:30 p.m

Hodge couldn’t make that play, ranging to her right with a runner on third base. Would have been the third out. Instead, it’s an error (no RBI for Mia Scott) and the Longhorns lead 3-2.

— JH

8:24 p.m.

Another nugget from the stat pack: Kierston Deal’s opponents’ batting average against hitters leading off an inning is .309.

And Henry starts her out with a single.

— JH

8:21 p.m.

Monticelli exits and Kierston Deal has entered the circle to start the fourth. 

Pitcher roulette in Oklahoma City. 

— RC 

8:20 p.m.

OK, so credit Avery Hodge for continuing to make something happen. She got all the way to third base before Ella Parker’s fly out to deep right center ended the rally.

But Hodge is making a bid for all-tournament team. She’s a spark plug.

— JH

8:17 p.m.

As Texas goes to LHP Estelle Czech, it’s worth noting that Oklahoma is hitting .370 against right handers this year but just .336 against lefties.

— JH

8:13 p.m.

Avery Hodge again! 

The sophomore ropes a leadoff single into left field to turn the lineup over. 

Now it’s Texas’ turn to head to the bullpen. Estelle Czech coming in to prevent Morgan from going through the OU order a second time. 

— RC 

8:09 p.m.

Monticelli nearly walks in a run, but gets a strike call behind home plate, then gets Joley Mitchell to ground out to Sanders at first base.

I guess Patty Gasso knows what she’s doing, doesn’t she?

— JH

8:07 p.m.

Monticelli has made one start this season and has thrown 19 innings. She has 23 strikeouts with eight walks, has allowed 10 hits, including just one extra-base hit — a home run.

She hasn’t pitched since May 9, when she went 2 innings against Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament. She appeared in eight Big 12 games.

For the season, she has a 0-0 record with a 1.11 ERA.

And she’s 3-0 on her first hitter.

— JH

8:05 p.m.

And that’s it for Keeney.

Paytn Monticelli is next up for Oklahoma.

Another shocker.

We’ll have to evaluate over the next few entries how Patty Gasso feels about her staff.

— JH

8:03 p.m.

Keeney looks rattled now. Her fourth walk (tied her season high) loads the bases, and the Longhorns’ Katie Stewart ties it at 2-2, with the bases still loaded.

— JH

8:00 p.m.

Finally, Reese Atwood has arrived!!!!

Two-out single moved Martinez over to third and Jennifer Rocha is going to have a chat with Karlie Keeney. 

— RC 

7:55 p.m.

Boone gets it back with a running catch in foul territory. That’s how you bounce back from a critical mental error.

— JH

7:51 p.m.

As a journalist, I have no rooting interest. I don’t care who does what. Boone definitely left early. No argument there.

However, to review a replay and call a runner out at first on what becomes a ball four is a dumb application of that rule and the replay system. Same with leaving early on a home run.

There’s no advantage gained by being 6-inches off the bag or sitting cross-legged on the bag. A walk is a walk, and a home run is a home run. To call that runner out is just dumb.

That said ... don't leave the bag early.

Here endeth the sermon.

— JH

7:49 p.m.

Looks like Rylie Boone left early according to the first replay. 

A good spot by the Texas dugout. 

Coleman would have been up with runners on first and second. Instead, the Longhorns are out of the inning. 

One challenge left for Mike White, the result of the review is an out. 

— RC 

7:44 p.m.

Boy, that Kasidi Pickering can swing it.

Her 12th home run of the season is a gift for the fans in the left field bleachers and the Sooners lead it 2-1. That’s her fifth of the NCAA Tournament, per Ryan.

Alyssa Brito doubled before the big ball, and Rylie Boone singled after. The Longhorns are meeting in the circle.

— JH

7:42 p.m.

Patty Gasso’s freshmen strike again. 

Kasidi Pickering knocks her second home run of the Championship Series, a two-run shot that gives OU its first lead of the night. 

Sooners on top 2-1.

— RC 

7:36 p.m.

Avery Hodge ends the second inning kinda like she did the first, only this time she charges in, short-hops a grounder and scoops to Sanders at first for the third out.

That kid is playing with great confidence and has been a real difference maker down the stretch.

— JH

7:36 p.m.

Hodge charged Maloney’s chopper to get Keeney out of the inning. 

Texas got up 2-0 on Oklahoma in Game 2 of the 2022 WCWS Championship Series before the Sooners took control. Longhorns strike first again, but both teams know one run isn’t gonna win this thing… probably.

— RC 

7:33 p.m.

And the walks lead to a run. Kaden Henry’s single to short right field scores Atwood and the Longhorns lead it 1-0.

How long does Keeney get tonight with so much early traffic on the bases?

— JH

7:33 p.m.

Keeney’s second leadoff walk comes back to bite her. 

Kaden Henry drops a single into shallow-left field and Atwood is able to make it home from second to put the Longhorns on top. Runners on the corners and two outs for Ashton Maloney. 

— RC 

7:32 p.m.

Super glove work there by shortstop Tiare Jennings to scoop that in-between ground ball by Washington, and good arm to get it there, but that out goes to Cydney Sanders, a plus-defensive first baseman with terrific reflexes — and a tremendous stretch that time.

Keeney then issues another walk to Mitchell, however. Runners at first and second, two out …

— JH

7:28 p.m.

Another leadoff walk for Keeney. I’d think Jen Rocha would have a pretty low tolerance for that.

— JH

7:22 p.m.

Texas turned a double play of its own to get out of the first inning, lots of hard contact for the Sooners off Mac Morgan. 

— RC 

7:15 p.m.

Another example of Patty Gasso pushing the right buttons. 

Alynah Torres batted last night and is ready to play, but putting Avery Hodge at second base tonight and Hodge turns a stellar double play to end Texas’ offensive threat.

Not that Torres couldn’t make that play. But Hodge did make it, ranging far to her right, stepping on the bag and throwing out the speedy Viv Martinez.

— JH

7:14 p.m.

Avery Hodge’s breakout WCWS continues. 

She made an excellent play to turn a 4-3 double play and erase Karlie Keeney’s leadoff walk. 

OU coming up to bat. 

— RC 

6:49 p.m.

A little more on OU starter Karlie Keeney: 

She’s pitched 59 innings, with 33 strikeouts and 17 walks, and has a 6-1 record with a 1.66 earned run average.

Keeney has allowed six home runs, six doubles and four hit batters.

She had at least 8 runs of support 10 times in her first 15 appearances, but only four times in her last 14 appearances. 

She pitched in 13 Big 12 games this season, including once against Texas in Austin. She threw one scoreless inning against the Longhorns.

Her NCAA Tournament appearances so far include four appearances (Cleveland State, Oregon, Florida State and Florida), all in relief. Her longest outing was 2 2/3 innings against FSU, in which she gave up a run on three hits, including a home run. She also gave up a home run to Oregon among her two runs and three hits allowed.

Her start tonight against Texas was certainly unexpected by anyone in the press box, but no doubt Patty Gasso and pitching coach Jen Rocha feel confident about her taking the circle.

— JH

6:45 p.m.

Patty Gasso and Mike White have both said some version of there are no secrets between the Sooners and the Longhorns over the past 48 hours, but Karlie Keeney is a close as it gets. 

She pitched just one inning against Texas this year, issuing one walk but getting all three outs after inheriting a pair of baserunners. 

It was Texas’ first victory over the Sooners, where a pair of runs were wiped off after Gasso challenged a runner leaving early. 

In the seventh, Maya Bland was thrown out at the plate to win, but that would have been immaterial if Keeney hadn’t gotten OU out of the jam in the bottom of the sixth. 

— RC 

6:40 p.m.

It's Karlie Keeney on the mound tonight for Oklahoma. Big night for the Liberty transfer, starting against the No. 1 team in the country to win the national championship.

No big deal.

Her last start was May 5 against Oklahoma State. She has four starts this season.

The rest of tonight's starting lineups:

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Ryan Chapman

RYAN CHAPMAN

Ryan is deputy editor at AllSooners and covers a number of sports in and around Norman and Oklahoma City. Working both as a journalist and a sports talk radio host, Ryan has covered the Oklahoma Sooners, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the United States Men’s National Soccer Team, the Oklahoma City Energy and more. Since 2019, Ryan has simultaneously pursued a career as both a writer and a sports talk radio host, working for the Flagship for Oklahoma sports, 107.7 The Franchise, as well as AllSooners.com. Ryan serves as a contributor to The Franchise’s website, TheFranchiseOK.com, which was recognized as having the “Best Website” in 2022 by the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters. Ryan holds an associate’s degree in Journalism from Oklahoma City Community College in Oklahoma City, OK.