Oklahoma softball closed out its historically dominant season with even more dominance, sweeping Florida State in the 2023 Women’s College World Series finals en route to a third straight NCAA championship.
The Sooners (61-1) beat Florida State 3-1 on Thursday behind back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning, handing star FSU pitcher Kathryn Sandercock her first loss since March 12. They extended their own NCAA record winning streak to 53 games, with their last loss coming on Feb. 19.
With the win, Oklahoma also becomes just the second team to win three consecutive NCAA Division I softball titles, joining the UCLA Bruins, who did so in 1988-90. Yet despite their dominance throughout the season, the twin pressures of the winning streak and the championship streak weighed on the Sooners.
“What you feel right now from us is freedom, because it was absolutely suffocating as we’re going along,” Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso told ESPN on the field after the game. “The expectations were overwhelming, but they handled it like champions and that’s why we are here right now.”
Oklahoma’s bats contributed to the win, particularly the home runs from Cydney Sanders and Grace Lyons, but the pitching and defense did their part as well.
Oklahoma outfielder Jayda Coleman robbed a would-be three-run home run from FSU’s Kalei Harding in the third inning.
JAYDA COLEMAN ROB JOB! 🗣️ @jaydac00#WCWS #SCtop10 x 🎥 ESPN / @OU_Softball pic.twitter.com/C1Nf6rLqdL— NCAA Softball (@NCAASoftball) June 9, 2023
JAYDA COLEMAN ROB JOB! 🗣️ @jaydac00#WCWS #SCtop10 x 🎥 ESPN / @OU_Softball pic.twitter.com/C1Nf6rLqdL
And Oklahoma took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth inning, Gasso put pitcher Jordy Bahl in the circle to hold onto it. Bahl had been lights out throughout the WCWS, and she retired all nine hitters she faced Thursday to secure the win.
“I don’t have a lot of words right now,” Bahl said in an interview with ESPN on the field after the game. “…We stick together. It’s not just one person who feels it, we all feel it. Sticking together is one of the toughest challenges this year.”