Oklahoma rolls over Texas softball in first game of 2024 NCAA WCWS

OKLAHOMA CITY – No one ever said beating Oklahoma would be easy, especially in the friendly environment of Devon Park.

That’s the message Texas coach Mike White had for his team after the Sooners joined forces in an 8-3 victory Wednesday in front of an esteemed home crowd in the first game of the Women’s College World Series best-of-three championship series .

“It’s not how hard you fall, it’s how high you bounce back,” White said. “We have to come back now and recover from setbacks, otherwise we go home. It’s quite simple. It’s fight or go home.”

More: Texas, Oklahoma split four previous softball games this year. What that means in the WCWS

The next fight starts Thursday at 7 p.m. Texas will have to throw more haymakers after allowing just four hits against Oklahoma top Kelly Maxwell, who earned the complete victory. The Longhorns could see Maxwell again, based on the southpaw’s comments after Wednesday’s win.

“This is it; this is my last chance,” said Maxwell, a transfer from Oklahoma State in her first season with the Sooners. “I’m just going to do everything I can to keep this team in it. I know they have my back and I have theirs.”

And how is Maxwell feeling after throwing 15 innings and 267 pitches over the past two days?

More: Who are the key players in the 2024 NCAA WCWS as Texas Softball faces Oklahoma?

“I’m doing well mentally and physically,” she said. “The staff here does everything they can to keep me going and feel good.”

On the other hand, Texas pitchers can’t feel great after seeing almost the entire staff in action while giving up nine hits, including three home runs. Freshman Teagan Kavan got the start after a pair of one-hit shutouts in previous WCWS wins over Stanford, but her streak of 14 scoreless innings quickly ended with a 2-run homer by Oklahoma’s Tiare Jennings in the first inning. Mac Morgan, who pitched a one-hit shutout against Florida earlier in the WCWS, replaced Kavan in the third inning with Texas down 5-1, but she threw just 2.1 scoreless innings as White began his pitching options for game two to map out.

More: Anyone else up for a war between Texas and Oklahoma, this time for the WCWS softball title? | Bohls

“It’s like a chess match,” he said. “Obviously they (the Texas players) were very disappointed, disappointed in our efforts and the execution of the game plan. You have a certain game plan, (but) you have to adapt halfway. I have always said: he who makes the last adjustment, loses, we didn’t really do that well tonight.”

Texas third baseman Mia Scott hit a solo home run in the first inning, and Katie Stewart and Joley Mitchell each added an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning. Those runs were the slightest salve in a painful loss, White said.

Stewart, a freshman, said a young Longhorns team that started Wednesday with six freshmen or sophomores can learn from its game-one experience in the crimson cauldron of Devon Park.

“I mean, we got a taste of it at the Big 12 tournament where all their fans were there,” she said. “It was a little different tonight, but we just stayed true to ourselves and remembered that it’s just a game we’re playing. Listening to the fans will only hurt us.”

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