Red River revenge, Trautwein shines and making TV history
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Sooners, stage too much for Texas
OKLAHOMA CITY — Credit to Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso, who rarely struggles to articulate the dominance of her team. She gets asked about it plenty.
Texas coach Mike White had an opportunity to address the top-seeded Sooners, specifically their high-powered offense that features Jayda Coleman, Jocelyn Alo and Tiare Jennings atop its batting order, following Saturday’s 7-2 loss.
“It's murderer's row,” as White described it.
Coleman, Alo and Jennings each boast batting averages above .400, and one — Alo — who’s hitting an unearthly .503 through 58 games.
Texas threw its ace Hailey Dolcini, who entered Saturday with a 23-10 record, 2.18 ERA, 128 hits allowed and 212 strikeouts over 202 innings this season, for 4 1/3 frames before the Sooners’ exploded for four runs in the fifth.
Dolcini is responsible for one of OU’s two losses this season, keeping the Sooners to a season-low two runs in the Longhorns’ 4-2 win over the Sooners on April 16.
She settled in to to retire nine consecutive Sooners after the fifth-year OU senior, Alo, sent a two-run shot to left in her first at-bat. The game decidedly got away from Dolcini as the Sooners took control in the fifth, on a stage it knows all too well.
In the opposite dugout, Texas hasn’t seen the World Series since 2013.
OU won on Saturday afternoon for plenty of reasons.
Experience certainly helped.
“It's hard to practice in front of 3,000 fans. Now it's 13,000,” White said of the difficulty of playing at Oklahoma City’s Hall of Fame Stadium.
“It's a situation where you got to be here. That's half the battle. … You can't practice it. You've just got to find those players that can perform in those situations. You go back and analyze it, you assess it, say, ‘What could we do differently?’ Then you work on the mental part of the game. That's the big difference here. Physical part is somewhat easy to teach. But the mental part of the game is very difficult.”
Perhaps it didn’t help OU’s players still seemed to carry a bad taste from their April loss to Texas that ended its 38-game winning streak to start the year.
“I think for sure it was on our mind,” Jennings said. “We had something to prove. No team beats us twice.”
Jennings and Alo made sure of it, both hitting home runs in Saturday’s victory.
Top of the 1st
OU 2, UT 0 — Jocelyn Alo homered to left field, 2 RBI (1-1 BF); Jayda Coleman scored.
Bottom of the 1st
OU 2, UT 1 — Alyssa Washington doubled down the lf line, RBI (1-1 BK); Mia Scott scored.
Top of the 5th
OU 3, UT 1 — Coleman doubled to right center, RBI (0-0); Rylie Boone scored.
OU 4, UT 1 — Alo singled up the middle, RBI (0-2 FFF); Coleman scored
OU 6, UT 1 — Tiare Jennings homered to left field, 2 RBI (1-0 B); Hannah Coor scored.
Top of the 7th
OU 7, UT 1 — Alyssa Brito singled to left field, RBI (2-1 KBB); Jennings advanced to second; Alo scored.
Trautwein takes command
Amid the first year of a pitcher-friendly World Series schedule, Oklahoma’s Hope Trautwein is taking advantage.
The Sooners newcomer, who played the last four years at North Texas and decided to finish her college career in Norman, asserted herself with Jordy Bahl as de facto 1a and 1b options.
Bahl has played just 1/3 an inning since the start of the postseason, opening the door for Trautwein to emerge as OU’s go-to arm in Oklahoma City.
“Hope is kind of on fire right now,” Gasso said. “She's really found her comfort zone.”
Unless you were paying close attention, you might not assume Trautwein struck out only one Texas batter. She also gave up six hits and walked two, but the Longhorns could only muster two scores.
“She fed our defense,” Gasso said of Trautwein, “… and she doesn't have to try to overthrow to get strikeouts because our defense is great.”
OU has the option to continue riding the success of Trautwein with a day off on Sunday, which Gasso said prompted a dance party in the Sooners’ locker room after downing Texas.
Before, the Women’s College World Series allowed for little time off, keeping a tight window to complete the event in two fewer days than the current format.
It’s made for a rare coaching first for Gasso, who, keep in mind, has led OU to 15 World Series appearances.
“I don't even know what to do 'cause having been here, it's just like chaos,” Gasso said. “It's get to your hotel, okay, get your stuff, let's get ready, look at video, eat fast, eat fast. It's like that.
“Now I'm like, what are we supposed to do? Lay around the hotel? What are we going to do here? It is great for your pitchers. One thing that my coaching staff and my training staff has done a great job with is recovery and hydration and mobility and all of those things are really paying off for this team right now.”
For the first time in its history, a Women’s College World Series contest was televised nationally on ABC.
Gasso admits her players might not completely understand the significance, considering they grew up with access to streaming services and not needing so often to consume over-the-air channels like ABC.
Still, it’s a big deal.
"Absolute honor,” Gasso said. “I think of ABC, maybe nobody even thinks the same way, but to me it is still the ‘Wide World of Sports.’I've been watching it for that long.
“To think that we are in a game on ABC is just a ‘wow’ factor for me, personally. I don't even talk to our team about it because they don't watch ABC, they watch Netflix. … For our sport, for women's athletics, it's just off the charts. I am really anxious to see what kind of viewership there was because it's just going to continue to help this whole sport just continue to grow.”
Oklahoma heads to the World Series’ final four, looking to secure its spot in the championship series on Monday at 11 a.m. on ESPN. OU will play the winner of Sunday’s game between UCLA and the loser of tonight’s game between Oklahoma State and Florida.
For the youths, ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” was a sports anthology program that aired from April 29, 1961 until Jan. 3, 1998.