Day 1 of the 2022 Women’s College World Series is in the books, and what a day it was in Oklahoma City.
After the first round of play, we have seen all three teams from the Big 12 teams and a team from the SEC move into the winner’s bracket and one step closer to securing a spot in the Championship series next week.
While there is still a lot of softball to be played, the first day of the tournament gave us a lot to go off of in terms of who might be left standing next week.
We started off the festivities with the tournament’s hottest team, the Texas Longhorns, upsetting a perennial powerhouse in UCLA, 7-2 in Game 1 of the WCWS. The Longhorns have now strung together three-straight wins over top-five opponents, their best such streak of the season, and are clearly playing their best ball of the season. Hailey Dolcini did what she has done all postseason: pitched confidently with a defense behind her that has committed just three errors since the beginning of the tournament.
Mia Scott (4-4, 2 RBIs), Bella Dayton (2-4, 2 RBIs), and Mary Iakopo (2-3, 2 RBI) led the way for Texas at the plate, while Janae Jefferson continued to make an impact with one hit and a run scored. The Texas offense recorded 13 hits against UCLA, a season-high against the Bruins, and seemed to have an answer for every pitcher that UCLA tried to throw at them.
Texas is the team that nobody wants to play right now, but they aren’t the only ones turning heads at this point in the tournament.
The Oklahoma Sooners seemed to be in a bit of a lull going into the third inning of their game against Northwestern. They had just one hit after two innings, and before the start of the third Patty Gasso gathered the team outside of the dugout for a pep talk of sorts. Well, after a few moments, it was clear that Gasso was no longer leading the huddle, as Jocelyn Alo’s voice was the one that Oklahoma was now listening to. Coach Gasso backed out of the huddle and into the dugout while Alo gave the Sooners her two cents on their performance so far.
“It went from talking to stern conversation,” Gasso said in her postgame interview. And Jocelyn Alo jumped in. And that gets very stern and gets to place where I need to walk away because I don’t
want to — we have a pretty straight-laced program, but when Joce jumps in, she’ll say it the way she means it. I just step out so she can be herself. The response was through the roof.”
And through the roof it was, as the Sooners went on to put 13 runs on the board over the next two innings, blasting the Wildcats 13-2 in a game that was close until it simply wasn’t. The Sooners score so quickly that it seems to pile on opponents before they get a chance to respond. If that trend continues, watch out.
Florida def. Oregon State 7-1
Florida played lights out against Virginia Tech last weekend to punch their ticket to Oklahoma City, and they continued that trend when they trotted onto the field against Oregon State on Thursday. The Beavers got things started early with two hits and a run in the first inning, but that would be it for the Oregon State offense as it was all Swamp from there.
Florida tacked on seven unanswered runs, most of them coming from their signature small ball style of play. Most everything in the box score was relatively close between these two teams, outside of one incredibly important statistic: errors.
The Gators were flawless defensively, committing zero errors on the evening and getting routine outs where needed. The Beavers, on the other hand, were anything but routine as they committed four errors, with five of Florida’s points being scored on plays where errors played a role.
The final game of Day 1 was the best game of the day, as Arizona and Oklahoma State both held leads late as they traded blows down the stretch. Oklahoma State got on the board first, scoring on an RBI single from Sydney Pennington in the fourth inning, and at that point, it looked like that might be enough to give the Pokes the win.
Arizona wouldn’t go quietly, however, as the Wildcats stole the lead with a two-run shot in the fifth from Sharlize Palacios. At that point, the wind seemed to be out of Oklahoma State’s sails, but the game was far from over. No, a 14 K effort from Kelly Maxwell kept OSU within striking distance, and they did just that in the sixth.
After Miranda Elish drew a walk and Sydney Pennington smacked a double down the right-field line, Karli Petty lined up a 2-2 pitch on the next at-bat and sent Pokes Nation into a frenzy with a three-shot bomb over the centerfield wall, giving OSU a 4-2 lead, which went on to be the final tally.
Overall, the Big 12 went a perfect 3-0 in the opening round of the Women’s College World Series, sending Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas to the winner’s bracket on Saturday. Buckle up Big 12 fans, it’s going to be a fun week of softball and we’ve only just begun.