OU sweeps UA softball team, advances to College World Series

By: Bob Holt
Published: Sunday, May 27, 2018
Oklahoma's Lea Wodach, left, and Paige Parker react after retiring Arkansas in an NCAA college championship super regional softball game Saturday, May 26, 2018, in Norman, Okla. (Steve Sisney/The Oklahoman via AP)
Oklahoma's Lea Wodach, left, and Paige Parker react after retiring Arkansas in an NCAA college championship super regional softball game Saturday, May 26, 2018, in Norman, Okla. (Steve Sisney/The Oklahoman via AP)

SOFTBALL SUPER REGIONAL

NO. 3 OKLAHOMA 9,

NO. 15 ARKANSAS 0

NORMAN, Okla. -- Softball powerhouse Oklahoma flexed its muscles Saturday and ended the Arkansas Razorbacks' season.

Oklahoma had 11 hits -- including home runs from Falepolima Aviu and Jocelyn Alo -- to beat the Razorbacks 9-0 at Marita Hynes Field.

At a glance

NCAA DIVISION I SOFTBALL SUPER REGIONALS

All times Central (Best-of-3; x-if necessary) NOTE Host school is home team for Game 1; visiting school is home team for Game 2; coin flip determines home team for Game 3

At Gainesville, Fla. THURSDAY Florida 5, Texas A&M 4 FRIDAY Texas A&M 5, Florida 4 SATURDAY Florida 5, Texas A&M 3

Florida advances to Women’s College World Series

At Eugene, Ore. THURSDAY Kentucky 9, Oregon 6 FRIDAY Oregon 6, Kentucky 1 SATURDAY Oregon 11, Kentucky 1

Oregon advances to Women’s College World Series

At Los Angeles THURSDAY UCLA 7, Arizona 1 FRIDAY UCLA 3, Arizona 2

UCLA advances to Women’s College World Series

At Athens, Ga. FRIDAY Georgia 4, Tennessee 3 SATURDAY Georgia 2, Tennessee 1 (8)

Georgia advances to Women’s College World Series

At Tallahassee, Fla.

FRIDAY LSU 6, Florida State 5

SATURDAY Florida State 8, LSU 5 (11); Florida State 3, LSU 1

Florida State advances to Women’s College World Series

At Norman, Okla.

FRIDAY Oklahoma 7, Arkansas 2

SATURDAY Oklahoma 9, Arkansas 0

Oklahoma advances to Women’s College World Series

At Seattle

FRIDAY Washington 3, Alabama 2 (9) SATURDAY Washington 6, Alabama 0

Washington advances to Women’s College World Series

At Tempe, Ariz.

FRIDAY Arizona State 5, South Carolina 2 SATURDAY Arizona State 5, South Carolina 2

Arizona State advances to Women’s College World Series

The Sooners (55-3) swept two games from the Razorbacks (42-17) to win the NCAA super regional at home and advance to the College World Series for the 12th time.

"Just having no break in their lineup, they're going to hit your mistakes," University of Arkansas, Fayetteville freshman pitcher Mary Haff said. "And Jocelyn Alo is one of the best hitters I've ever seen."

Alo, a freshman left fielder, hit a two-run home run off Haff in the top of the seventh inning -- Oklahoma technically was the visiting team by NCAA rules -- to put an exclamation point on the Sooners' victory and finish the scoring.

It was Alo's national-leading 28th home run this season, including a solo shot she hit off Haff in the Sooners' 7-2 victory on Friday.

Aviu hit a three-run home run off Arkansas starter Autumn Storms in the fifth inning Saturday to push Okahoma's lead to 5-0.

That was more than enough backing for Sooners senior left-hander Paige Parker (29-2), who pitched a complete game and held Arkansas to 6 hits and 1 walk with 9 strikeouts.

"Their pitching is absolutely incredible," Razorbacks senior third baseman Autumn Buczek said. "Their pitch calling is also incredible. They knew exactly how to attack us. We didn't do a great job of adjusting and they punished us for that.

"I think they have a great chance to go all the way again. They're a great team."

Oklahoma will go for its fifth national championship -- and third in a row -- in nearby Oklahoma City.

"This team had a mission today, and it's mission was Oklahoma City," said Patty Gasso, who is in her 24th season as Oklahoma's coach. "They're playing their best softball right now."

Arkansas Coach Courtney Deifel was a graduate assistant for Gasso in 2007 and 2008.

"I think this is probably the most complete team that Patty's ever had," Deifel said. "They're the best of the best.

"They've done an incredible job recruiting and they're one of the best staffs at developing their players and just getting in the mindset."

Gasso said the mindset for the Sooners is anything less than reaching the College World Series is a disappointing season.

"This program has gone to the heights of where the expectation is we do this," Gasso said. "We should be one of the final eight teams every year.

"It's a hard place to live, but a world that [the players] embraced. They love the challenge."

Arkansas played in a super regional for the first time.

"I'm incredibly proud of this team," Deifel said. "What they've done over the course of the year is pretty remarkable. I'm just really proud that I get to coach them every day."

Oklahoma finished 30-0 at home this season and Saturday's announced crowd of 1,967 set a school record.

"It's hard to come in here and win," Sooners senior catcher Lea Woodach said. "We definitely like to get our crowd involved.

"It's definitely an advantage, and that's why you play hard all season -- to be at home in a regional and super regional."

Last season Arkansas made its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013 and was eliminated by Oklahoma in a 5-3 loss at Norman.

The Razorbacks hosted a regional for the first time this season -- and two years after back-to-back 1-23 finishes in the SEC in 2015 and 2016.

"We exceeded our expectations this year, and not because we had low ones," Deifel said. "I think last year we got our feet wet with the postseason, with the SEC Tournament and the NCAAs.

"They knew what they were striving for, so the goal going into this year was always to make the postseason again. And not just to make it, but to actually make an impact, and this team did that."

Gasso made it a point to praise Deifel and Arkansas in her postgame news conference.

"She's got a great future with that team," Gasso said. "They're a good young team that fights."

Sports on 05/27/2018

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