OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma will face an old rival in a new scenario at the Women’s College World Series on Friday night.
Giselle “G” Juarez threw a complete game to help the Sooners beat Alabama 3-2 on Thursday. The win set up a matchup against rival Oklahoma State with a semifinals slot on the line. The schools have never played in the World Series.
“I think it’s going to be a really good game,” Juarez said. “I think it’s going to be an intense one. We’re on the biggest stage in college softball. I think it’s going to be a really awesome game tomorrow.”
The odds appear stacked against Oklahoma State. Top-seeded Oklahoma (55-3) has won 23 straight against the Cowgirls and outscored them 16-2 in three meetings this season. But Oklahoma State beat Florida 2-1 on the strength of pitcher Samantha Show’s two homers. And the Cowgirls fearlessly beat defending national champion Florida State on the road to reach the World Series.
Show said she looks forward to the opportunity and the atmosphere Friday night.
“Crazy,” Show said. “I mean, it’s what we dream of. One, playing in front of a crowd like that. Two, beating OU.”
Oklahoma had a tough time making the matchup happen, but Juarez helped by giving up just two runs on four hits with nine strikeouts. Sydney Romero had two hits and scored twice for the Sooners.
Claire Jenkins had two hits and scored twice for the eighth-seeded Crimson Tide (57-9).
The game was tied at 1-all in the third when Jocelyn Alo’s single scored Romero to give the Sooners a 2-1 lead.
Alabama’s Jenkins hit a homer in the fifth inning to tie it at 2.
Oklahoma’s Nicole Mendes tripled in the bottom of the sixth to score pinch-runner Raegan Rogers and give the Sooners the lead for good.
“I like to compete,” Mendes said. “This is where the biggest teams come to compete. I don’t know, it just brings something out in me. I just get really excited and really amped up. It’s anybody’s game. Any team here can win it. I think that kind of lights a fire in me.”
Now, Oklahoma has to remember to focus on the overall task — the chase for their third national title in four years. Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso said the Sooners need to ignore the hype about playing their rival.
“There’s history,” Gasso said. “I know everybody wants to see it. We just want to find ways to win. We want to get ourselves to a place where we’re playing on Sunday and not playing all day. That’s the important thing. That’s what we’ve got to focus on, not get caught up in the hype.”
Florida actually had six hits to Oklahoma’s two, but didn’t capitalize and left five runners on base.
“We didn’t have very many productive at-bats,” Florida coach Tim Walton said. “Our outs — they made a couple nice plays defensively, but our outs just weren’t very good. You can have good outs, be productive with your outs, move runners along. We didn’t have that.”
Alabama will play Florida in an elimination game on Saturday.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP