OKLAHOMA CITY —
For Oklahoma, immortality will have to wait.
Give the Sooners an assist Wednesday night and early Thursday morning at Hall of Fame Stadium, for they failed to right the ship in time. And still, understand well this was no way to determine a national champion.
But it did.
The Crimson Tide stopped the Sooners 5-4 at 12:31 Thursday morning. They did it, more than anything, with a quartet of fourth-inning runs.
It just happened to be the same inning the rains came back to northeast Oklahoma City, which just happened to coincide with a walk and three wild pitches — Sooner pitcher Keilani Ricketts unable to control the ball out of her fingers — that led directly to the Crimson Tide’s first run of the game.
That was the moment OU coach Patty Gasso came out of her dugout for the second time to confer with the umpires, and the moment Ricketts made this expression with her arms that told the story, told everybody what the heck was she supposed to do with a slick and soaked ball that kept slipping out of her left hand.
So the game was postponed.
Just maybe, long enough for everybody to put their ponchos on.
Play resumed, Alabama and its fans remained in a frenzy, Ricketts gave up a hit to Amanda Locke, a double to Courtney Conley that tied the game … and then the Sooners did it to themselves.
Fielding Jazlyn Lunceford’s grounder, shortstop Jessica Vest threw it in the mud in front of first baseman Lauren Chamberlain, who couldn’t handle it, who then picked up the ball and threw home even worse than Vest had thrown to her, allowing Conley to cross and the Tide to take the lead.
Simply put, it was the worst, most forgettable and unnecessary half inning in the history of Sooner softball.
It cost OU a national championship.
It was bad enough that everybody was held hostage to a 9:55 p.m. start, a start that would make certain the most important game of the entire college softball season would be played in rain everybody knew would eventually return.
It was bad enough all other interests were placed in front of the interests of the best possible game on the most important night of the season.
It was a crime Ricketts was made to stand in the circle as though standing in the shower, long enough to uncork wild pitch after wild pitch after wild pitch, giving away all the momentum the Sooners had secured with a second-inning solo home run from, who else, Ricketts, and a two-run, third-inning blast from Chamberlain.
It was horribly unfortunate, for the second straight game, OU had to be a party to its own destruction, again failing to make the plays in the field any championship team should make.
But it didn’t make them.
The Sooners’ last line of defense on a horrible night from Mother Nature and the ESPN and NCAA powers that be, as luck would have it, was their actual defense.
One more Crimson Tide run in the fifth didn’t help much either.
The only saving grace was Brianna Turang got to lead off the top of the seventh.
Put in the leadoff slot by Gasso after Georgia Casey had been holding down the spot since NCAA play began, it meant the top of the Sooner order would have one more chance at Alabama pitcher Jackie Traina.
Turang was just out at first after a hot shot to shortstop Kaila Hunt. Destinee Martinez ran into first baseman Cassie Reilly-Boccia and was called out for interfering. And oh, what a play that turned out to be when Lauren Chamberlain, next up, hit her second home run of the game.
Then Ricketts struck out.
You can’t do that either.
It wasn’t right.
It wasn’t right at all.
It was just over.
OKLAHOMA CITY —
For Oklahoma, immortality will have to wait.
- Sports Columnists
COLUMN: Perfect ending to OU's championship run
Really, that’s about right.
On the day Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso saves the nation’s best pitcher for a possible winner-take-all national championship game, the nation’s best pitcher’s back-up tosses a shutout and the nation’s best pitcher rips a three-run home run and drives in all four Sooner runs.
COLUMN: Are these spring hopes eternal for OU's Metoyer?
The annual Red-White spring game is a skirmish without context and there’s really no way around it.
In an age of closed practices, holding out your stars, putting blue jerseys on your quarterbacks and throttling back the playbook because an opponent might pick something up watching it, just how much can anybody hope to glean?
COLUMN: Devalued titles only make it easier for Jenks, Union
The revolution arrived quietly, long before Thursday.
Thursday was only the day it became clear, when OSSAA Class 6A member schools voted for the lesser of two evils, a plan to separate Class 6A high school football in the state into two different 16-team and two-district divisions, a Class 7A in everything but name, rather than an even nuttier idea to not separate into two divisions, yet somehow determine two state champions via two different playoff brackets.
COLUMN: OU wants to build tradition of its own
They say tradition never goes on vacation, so maybe the Oklahoma women can’t count on being overlooked today.
Tennessee is the Yankees, Steelers and Manchester United of women’s college basketball, only better.
COLUMN: Can Griner save the WNBA?
The hours spent pouring over the brackets were probably a waste because no one knows just how good Gonzaga is, or whether Kansas really does have its act together.
That's the beauty of the NCAA men's tournament, where this year there are more questions than ever about which schools are pretenders and which are contenders. Even the wise guys in Vegas don't really seem to know, with seven teams - including Kansas and Gonzaga all listed at 12-1 or better to win the national title.
There's no such debate on the women's side. Brittney Griner and her Baylor teammates are pretty much locks to be cutting down the nets in New Orleans on a second straight national title.
HORNING: Whitney Hand not done leaving her mark at OU
Favorite Sooner of all time? Well, from my youth there’s Elvis Peacock, John McCullough, Kelly Snider and, just to make everybody from a different sport, let’s say Jim Begwin.
COLUMN: Arkansas coaching search gets weird
On some levels I can relate to John L. Smith’s plight.
Much like Smith, my employer recently made a personnel decision that directly impacted my workload. Like Smith, I went from merely setting a kick return unit, to calling plays, barking orders, and attempting to figure out what’s going on inside Paul Petrino’s head.
HORNING: Considering Landry Jones
Only a few days ago I wrote about Landry Jones’ opportunity to define himself once and for all over his last four games as a Sooner.
That even though championships appeared out of reach, should he play victorious football and leave the Sooner Nation happy, he’ll be rewarded by fine memories.
Against Sooners, Irish have what it takes, again
The magic was back.Now it’s gone.That’s the Irish for you. That’s Notre Dame and Oklahoma. That’s history, fulfilled.
If I’m Joe Castiglione, I try lining up another home and home series with Notre Dame before the Sooners even visit South Bend next season. If I’m the Sooner athletic director, I try scheduling this game wherever possible, as often as possible.
The 10 best reasons to hate Notre Dame
Notre Dame is a wonderful school, a fantastic institution and a slice of American history that simply can’t be denied. Just ask Regis Philbin.
- More Sports Columnists Headlines
- COLUMN: Perfect ending to OU's championship run