Three Thoughts on Oklahoma’s 1-0 Win Over UCLA in WCWS

Oklahoma pitcher Kelly Maxwell (28) celebrates after a Women's College World Series softball game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the UCLA Bruins at Devon Park in Oklahoma City, Saturday, June 1, 2024. Oklahoma won 1-0.

In a matchup of softball royalty, Patty Gasso’s Oklahoma Sooners extended their winning streak against Kelly Inouye-Perez’s UCLA Bruins to three games with a 1-0 victory on Saturday afternoon.

Two of the most powerful offenses in the country entered this matchup, but we were treated to a true pitcher’s duel. The two programs combined for just six hits and 17 strikeouts on the afternoon.

With the win, Oklahoma (56-6) will now get Sunday off as they prepare for a semifinal matchup between the winner of Game 9, which will pit Alabama against the loser of Texas and Florida (6:00 p.m. CT, ESPN).

Meanwhile, UCLA (43-11) will now face Stanford in an elimination game after the Cardinal run-ruled Oklahoma State on Friday night to stay alive.


Here are three thoughts on Oklahoma’s win and what it means for the Sooners going forward.

Kelly Maxwell’s Career Day was Clinical

We have seen a lot of incredible performances from Kelly Maxwell over the years, but the game that she just put together against UCLA might be the crowning performance of her career to this point. The Bruins offense that she faced on Saturday afternoon has been on an absolute tear at the plate, and Maxwell has lacked her best stuff over her last two showings.

In a pivotal matchup that would send the winner to the WCWS semifinals with a 2-0 record, Maxwell was absolutely brilliant and shut down a UCLA offense that had powered the Bruins to 14-straight wins coming into today. Maxwell’s complete game shutout saw her surrender just two hits with three walks and a career-high 11 strikeouts against the Bruins, holding them to just 2-of-23 (.087) at the plate. Perhaps more impressive was the fact that Maxwell held the duo of Maya Brady and Sharlize Palacios to a combined 0-of-7 with five strikeouts, the most combined strikeouts for those two in a single game over the past two seasons.

If we see that version of Kelly Maxwell for the rest of the postseason, it is hard to imagine anyone but Oklahoma hoisting the national championship trophy at the end of the week.


Tiare Jennings Blisters the Bruins Again

Tiare Jennings, a product of San Pedro, California, is very familiar with the UCLA softball program. She is close friends with several players on the team and could’ve very well ended up a Bruin rather than a Sooner in an alternate reality. After how she’s played against them, I’d imagine there’s more than one UCLA fan out there wishing that were what happened.

As we mentioned in the preview for this game, Jennings has had some of the biggest moments in her illustrious career against UCLA. In her last two games against UCLA, Jennings was 5-for-8 with one HR and seven RBIs. On Saturday, Jennings continued her success against them, going 2-of-3 at the plate to bring her average to .636 (7-of-11) against the Bruins over their last three meetings.

One of her two hits today was a big one—a solo shot over the centerfield wall—and it ended up being the difference in a one-score ball game.

The Sooners’ offense might’ve only managed four hits in this game, but Jennings made sure to make the most of her chances, and she certainly made it count.


Three More Wins to Softball Immortality

This was the 20th consecutive NCAA Tournament victory for Oklahoma, extending their NCAA record, but three more wins, whether consecutive or not, would be more than record-setting—it would be the stuff of legend. Oklahoma is now set to play in its eighth consecutive WCWS Semifinals and is one win away from playing in its fifth consecutive WCWS Finals series and eighth in the last nine seasons.

If they can find a way to win two of three games in that series, Oklahoma will become the first team in D-I Softball history to win four consecutive national championships. That would send their senior class out with never having known what it was like to end their season with a loss.

We are talking about softball immortality on the line.

However, the road ahead will be tough, and it’s far from a gimme for this squad. With teams like Texas, Florida, Alabama, Stanford, and, of course, UCLA still in the hunt, Oklahoma will have to be at its very best to see this thing through to the end. But at this point, should we expect anything less?

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