OKLAHOMA CITY — There have been some long home runs in Oklahoma’s prestigious softball history.
Jocelyn Alo’s bomb wasn’t only a tape-measure shot. It was also timely in the Sooners’ 7-3 victory over Alabama in a Women’s College World Series elimination game on Sunday night.
The homer cleared the USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium’s center-field bleachers and, after the game, an ESPN reporter relayed to her that it hit a car.
“Sweet,” Alo said with a smile.
Oklahoma hit two more home runs — totaling three in a span of seven batters — to run away from the Crimson Tide. The Sooners now have 111 home runs, which is the most by any school this season.
Now waiting for Oklahoma is UCLA, which is unbeaten in Oklahoma City this week. The Bruins eliminated Washington 3-0 in 10 innings during Sunday’s opening game at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.
The championship series’ games are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and, if necessary, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. It is the first time that the top two seeds will meet in the final series since the best-of-3 format was introduced in 2005.
Oklahoma returns to the championship series for the fourth time in the past seven seasons. During that span, Oklahoma won national championships in 2013 (defeated Tennessee), 2016 (Auburn) and 2017 (Florida).
Alo’s home run woke up a slumbering offense.
There have been many memorable home runs in Oklahoma softball history. Alo’s bomb will be added to the list.
“That disappeared in the darkness really fast,” OU coach Patty Gasso said. “I’ve seen her hit some but I’d say that’s probably right there with some of the furthest I’ve seen from anyone … it was at the right time and it was great for her. She’s really been trying to step up for this team.”
Alo’s shot came in the fifth inning and swayed momentum toward the Sooners.
“It felt effortless and I felt like I was pressing during the two at-bats before,” Alo said. “I didn’t know how far it went, but off the bat, I was like ‘Yeah!’”
OU and UCLA have met once in 2019. On Feb. 22, the Bruins defeated the Sooners 7-1 in the prestigious Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. It would be OU’s last loss before starting a school-record 41-game winning streak.
Oklahoma (57-4) had struggled at the plate against the Crimson Tide. Earlier in the day, OU only managed four hits in a 1-0 loss that forced an elimination game.
“Alabama is one of the best teams we’ve played all season,” Gasso said. “No way they should have been an eight seed.
“It was like a good old-fashioned dog fight and may the best team win. This team decided that they weren’t ready to go home. They all came together really well.”
The Sooners only had five total hits after 12⅔ innings before Alo stepped to the plate with two outs and Grace Lyons on first base.
Alo hit an 0-1 pitch off Alabama starter Krystal Goodman (11-1) over the center-field wall. It cleared the bleachers and had the press box buzzing in wonder if the shot cleared the slow-pitch fence located 300 feet from home plate.
Just three batters later, in the sixth inning, Nicole Mendes matched Alo with a two-run homer over the right-field wall. The dinger was timely, as Alabama’s own two-run homer earlier in the inning made it 4-3.
After Mendes’ homer made it 6-3, Grace Lyons cleared the left-field wall with a solo shot to make it 7-3.
The Sooners had a program-record 108 home runs coming into the WCWS. It didn’t have any home runs in the first 26⅔ innings in Oklahoma City before registering three homers in a span of seven at-bats.
It was the second time that the Sooners faced extinction in the 2019 season. After beating Wisconsin in an elimination game in the NCAA Norman Regional, OU was forced to do the same against Alabama.
Alabama (60-10) opened the afternoon with a 1-0 win over the Sooners in eight innings. It was the first time in 60 games this season that Oklahoma was held scoreless. The last time it had happened was in a WCWS elimination game (3-0) against Washington last season.
“We are a team,” Mendes said. “Whenever our backs are against a wall, a team’s true character shows … we came together not just for the seniors but each other … We wanted to do it for our seniors but it’s been a really fun ride.”
The contest featured a pitcher’s duel between aces Giselle Juarez (Oklahoma) and Montana Fouts (Alabama). The Tide’s Caroline Hardy provided the winning hit, a pinch-hit, two-out single off Juarez in the eighth.
Juarez would start the deciding game, but give way to Mariah Lopez, who picked up the win.
“This team really clicks,” Lopez said. “We have been challenged in many different ways. We’ve been prepared … it’s just a Sooner Magic type of thing. We’re all coming together.”
OKLAHOMA 7, ALABAMA 3
Alabama 010 002 0 – 3 5 2
Oklahoma 200 023 x – 7 5 1
Juarez, Lopez (2), Saile (7) and Elam Goodman, Cornell (6) and Dykes. HR: Alo (16) Mendes (6) Lyons (8). W: Lopez (19-1). L: Goodman (11-1).
ALABAMA 1, OKLAHOMA 0
Oklahoma 000 000 00 – 0 4 0
Alabama 000 000 01 – 1 4 2
Juarez and Elam Fouts and Dykes. W: Fouts (21-6). L: Juarez (28-2).