OU Softball: Oklahoma Closes Out Florida State to Return to WCWS

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OU Softball: Oklahoma Closes Out Florida State to Return to WCWS

NORMAN — Florida State valiantly held off Oklahoma for five innings. 

The Seminoles’ decorated senior class wasn’t going to exit the NCAA Tournament without a fight, but Kasidi Pickering’s two-run bomb put the Sooners on the brink of returning to the Women’s College World Series. 

It wasn’t until Jayda Coleman robbed Jaysoni Beachum’s home run in the bottom half of the frame that the party at Love’s Field really started, however. 

The senior outfielder, playing her last contest in Norman, tracked the Florida State freshman’s ball all the way to the wall, leaped and extended her glove above the white line, and hauled in the thunderbolt out, igniting the packed stadium into a fired-up frenzy. 

Coleman’s heroics were necessary for the Sooners to finish off Florida State 4-2 on Friday, punching OU’s ticket back to the Women’s College World Series. 

JAYDA COLEMAN HOME RUN ROBBERY 😱 pic.twitter.com/hNqrbSoZHh

— ESPN (@espn) May 25, 2024

“Proud, prideful day for the Sooners,” OU coach Patty Gasso said after the game. “… The Sooners really have been trending upwards. I liked the tight games. I think it’s really good for us. I’m really proud of this group tonight.”

Pickering’s home run opened up a tight battle. 

Florida State started freshman Ashtyn Danley in the circle, but quickly moved to Makenna Reid, who hadn’t pitched since April. 

Reid lived off her off-speed, keeping the Sooners off balance, but savvy base running put Oklahoma on top in the third. 

Tiare Jennings’ single put her aboard, and a pair of passed balls moved the OU shortstop over to third. 

Freshman Ella Parker drew a walk to bring Alyssa Brito to the plate. 

After the first pitch to Brito, Parker started moving to second, daring Florida State catcher Michaela Edenfield to throw down to second. 

Edenfield obliged, and as Parker prolonged the intentional rundown, Jennings had enough time to shuttle down the line and cross home plate to open the scoring. 

“We were looking to score somehow and Ella did a really nice job of creating the rundown,” Gasso said. “You create the chase with the second baseman and then you have to get her to stop, turn her body and try to throw to home plate, which is very difficult. So we gave up an out, but we gained a run and that was fine with us.”

Final Box Score

Final Box Score / OU Stats

But Florida State had an immediate answer. 

Beachum, the Seminoles’ star freshman, homered on a rope to left field to level the game at 1-1 in the bottom half of the inning. 

Shortly after the home run, Gasso switched out starter Kierston Deal in favor of Karlie Keeney

Deal only surrendered the lone run, but she fell behind 2-0 in the count to six of the 12 batters she faced. 

Keeney settled things down in the third and the fourth, allowing Oklahoma to open up a three-run lead in the fifth. 

Coleman scored on a wild pitch before Pickering’s third home run of the NCAA Tournament and her 10th on the year made the score 4-1.

Kasidi. Pickering.@PickeringKasidi blasts her third home run of the NCAA Tournament and our lead is three!#ChampionshipMindset | 📺 ESPN2 pic.twitter.com/WwYy4SUQXG

— Oklahoma Softball (@OU_Softball) May 25, 2024

“I was just so happy for Kas. She started that,” Parker said after the win. “Just so over the moon excited for her. I think I jumped really high coming home for that.”

Immediately after Coleman’s fantastic catch in the bottom of the fifth, Florida State got a run back. 

Kalei Harding hit a long home run to left to cut the deficit to 4-2, but Gasso stuck with Keeney to close out the fifth.

Brito was unable to add any insurance runs in the sixth inning, grounding out with the bases loaded, prompting Gasso to bring Nicole May into the game for the final two innings to try and close out the victory.

May was steady. She kept the ball in the park and relied on her defense to close down the contest, including getting a penguin dive from Cydney Sanders into foul territory to record the second out of the sixth. 

GET CYD HER GOLD GLOVE ‼️@SandersCydney | TV: ESPN2 pic.twitter.com/VoSGhr7S7K

— Oklahoma Softball (@OU_Softball) May 25, 2024

May retired the Seminoles (46-16) in order in the seventh, ending Florida State’s season.

Oklahoma (54-6) now awaits Duke and Missouri to finish out the Columbia Super Regional to learn its first opponent at the WCWS. 

Duke took a 1-0 lead over the Tigers on Friday night. 

The Sooners will be in action on Thursday in OKC. 

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