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Oklahoma wins record fourth straight NCAA softball title

Hand-raised, white-sleeved Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso celebrates with the team after a win over Texas in the NCAA Women’s College World Series Softball Championship on Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Oklahoma City — Patty Gasso’s Oklahoma Sooners have done it again.

Oklahoma powered its way to a record fourth straight NCAA softball title, got the green light and cleared a bases-clearing double from Cydney Sanders and defeated Texas 8-4 on Thursday night for a two-game sweep of the Women’s College World Series Championship.

The Sooners won their eighth title overall, all under coach Gasso, and tied with Arizona for the second-most World Series championships, behind UCLA’s 12.

Jayda Coleman, Tiare Jennings, Kinzie Hansen, Rylie Boone and pitcher Nicole May were key contributors to each of the Sooners’ past four championship teams.

“They cemented this program in history,” Gasso said. ‘They have anchored themselves in history. History may change, but these guys will never be forgotten.”

The Sooners felt the pressure along the way.

“’Heavy is a head that wears the crown’ is the one thing that really stood out,” Gasso said. “I heard someone say that. That really felt true. It was exhausting. These players are exhausted, but they keep going.”

Kelly Maxwell, a transfer from Oklahoma State, was named most outstanding player. The graduate student went 3-0 with a save in the World Series, allowing seven earned runs in 27 innings.

She was criticized for transferring to Oklahoma State’s biggest rival, but she believes it was worth it.

“I had to deal with a lot of hate and a lot of doubt,” Maxwell said. “But I’m just thankful for these girls, this team and this staff, just for picking me up and having my back.”

Second-seeded Oklahoma (59-7) scored eight runs in each of two games against top-seeded Texas and totaled 21 hits against a Longhorns team that came in off three straight one-hit shutouts in the World Series.

“Congratulations to the University of Oklahoma on their fourth straight championship,” Texas coach Mike White said. “It’s an incredible achievement. We know how hard it is to get here, let alone win four. It’s a great achievement.”

Kasidi Pickering hit a two-run homer in the second inning for the Sooners, and Ella Parker hit a two-run single in the sixth that extended Oklahoma’s lead. Gasso used five pitchers, with Maxwell getting the final four outs for the save a day after her complete-game win in Game 1.

Karlie Keeney got the start for Oklahoma, followed by Paytn Monticelli, Kierston Deal, May and Maxwell. Deal worked the fourth and was credited with the win.

Mac Morgan, who threw a one-hitter against Florida earlier in the World Series, started Game 2 against Oklahoma and gave up two runs on five hits in two innings. Estelle Czech took the loss, allowing three runs on four hits in two innings.

Texas (55-10) still hasn’t won a national title. The Longhorns lost to the Sooners in the 2022 championship series. This year, Texas won the Big 12 regular-season title, but Oklahoma defeated the Longhorns in the Big 12 tournament.

Both programs are leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference next season.

“Texas always makes us better,” Gasso said. “I think we can both agree that we do that for each other. That’s how we get here. That is why we look at each other on the podium of the national championship.”

Freshman Kayden Henry had two hits for Texas and drove in the Longhorns’ first run.

A baserunning error by Texas’ Mia Scott ended the Longhorns’ chance to tie the game or take the lead in the sixth inning. Scott’s RBI infield single with two outs pulled Texas within 5-4 and moved Ashton Maloney to third, but Scott went too far by finishing first. Oklahoma second baseman Avery Hodge turned the ball to first baseman Sanders, who tagged Scott out before she could get back.

“It was huge,” Maxwell said. “I mean, they definitely had the momentum at that point. …I saw Mia Scott come out of the bag a little bit. I just told Avery, ‘Turn around, turn around, let’s get her, come on.’ Finally she heard me. We made it happen.”

Two innings earlier, Hodge’s fielding error allowed Texas to take a 3-2 lead.

Texas could learn from the experience. White has a young team that he expects to return to the World Series.

“As I told the team, one of these days I want to be here on the other side of the stage to make that last speech more fun than it is now,” he said.

Oklahoma’s Kasidi Pickering (7) celebrates a home run against Texas during the second inning of Game 2 of the NCAA Women’s College World Series Softball Championship on Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Oklahoma’s Kasidi Pickering (7) celebrates her home run against Texas during the second inning of Game 2 of the NCAA Women’s College World Series Softball Championship on Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Oklahoma fans cheer during the first inning of Game 2 of the NCAA Women’s College World Series Softball Championship against Texas on Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso talks to the team between innings in Game 2 of the NCAA Women’s College World Series Softball Championship against Texas on Thursday, June 6, 2024 in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Texas’ Mac Morgan (55) pitches against Oklahoma during the second inning of Game 2 of the NCAA Women’s College World Series Softball Championship on Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Texas outfielder Kayden Henry walks into the outfield wall after a hit by Oklahoma’s Alyssa Brito during the second inning of Game 2 of the NCAA Women’s College World Series Softball Championship on Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Oklahoma’s Alyssa Brito (33) celebrates a double against Texas during the second inning of Game 2 of the NCAA Women’s College World Series softball championship on Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Texas’ Citlaly Gutierrez (77) pitches against Oklahoma during the sixth inning of Game 2 of the NCAA Women’s College World Series Softball Championship on Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

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