Oklahoma looked every bit the part of the No. 1 team in the nation with its 8-0 win over Georgia Saturday afternoon at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
“I couldn’t imagine it being much better,” said Sooners coach Patty Gasso, whose team plays No. 2-seed UCLA in another elimination game at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Oklahoma (51-3) left no doubt against Georgia in the first elimination game of this year’s Women’s College World Series. The Sooners dominated at the plate, defensively and in the pitcher’s circle to end what had been a Cinderella postseason run by Georgia (34-23).
Georgia, which hit 11 home runs and scored 32 runs in the five regional and super-regional wins, couldn’t provide Avant the run support needed on the WCWS stage.
UGA coach Lu Harris-Champer elected to start the sixth inning Saturday with freshman Britton Rogers, and the Sooners seized the opportunity to take advantage of the young pitcher.
Rogers gave up three hits and three runs in her one inning of work, including a home run to Jocelyn Alo, the National Player of the Year.
Alo, who set Oklahoma’s single-season record for home runs (31) with the blast, said she knew a changeup was coming from Rogers and sat on it.
Georgia went down in order in the bottom of the sixth inning, invoking the run rule and ending their season.
UGA dropped to the WCWS loser’s bracket after losing a 3-2 decision to Oklahoma State, while the Sooners fell in an epic 4-3 (8 innings) upset to James Madison.
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Oklahoma opened as the tourney favorite with good reason, leading the nation in runs per game (11.2), batting average (.417), home runs (147) and slugging percentage (.799).
Pitcher Giselle Juaraez (19-1), a transfer from Arizona State with WCWS experience and tremendous movement on her pitches, became just as big a part of the story on Saturday.
Juarez was sensational, striking out 10 batters while walking only one. UGA’s Lacey Fincher had two hits off her, but the rest of the Bulldogs’ lineup combined for only one.
Oklahoma gave Juarez all the run support she would need when it opened the scoring with two outs in the bottom of the second. Mackenzie Donihoo fouled off three two-strike pitches before driving a rise ball over the fence in left-center field to make it 2-0.
“When we play our game, I feel we’re unstoppable,” said Donihoo, who was 3-for-3 at the plate.
“I knew once we got a run we were going to keep pushing and get another run for G (Juarez), because she was pitching a great game.”
The Sooners made it 3-0 in the top of the fourth by taking advantage of a Sydney Chambley throwing error on a Donihoo two-out single.
Georgia looked to rally in the bottom of the fourth when Fincher doubled into the corner with one out.