OU Softball: Oklahoma Overpowers Florida State, Moves Within One Game of WCWS

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OU Softball: Oklahoma Overpowers Florida State, Moves Within One Game of WCWS

NORMAN — Alyssa Brito took over Oklahoma’s first Super Regional contest on Thursday. 

In a rematch of last year’s Women’s College World Series finale, Brito relieved pressure on OU starting pitcher Kelly Maxwell with great defensive plays while hammering a pair of home runs to fuel the Sooners. 

Her homer in the fourth inning sparked a five-run outburst from Oklahoma that pushed OU past Florida State 11-3 at Love’s Field in five innings.

The 2-seeded Sooners (53-6) are now one win away from returning to the WCWS, while 15-seeded Florida State (46-15) will get an opportunity to stave off elimination on Friday. 

“She is so good this time of year,” OU coach Patty Gasso said of Brito after the win. “At practice, she’s swinging that way. Very free, very loose. Very competitive, so good on defense as well. She’s doing it all right, leaving it on the field like she should.”

Final Box Score

Final Box Score / OU Stats

OU needed each of its four home runs to provide enough support to Maxwell, who looked uncomfortable from the first pitch. 

She loaded the bases up in the first inning thanks to a pair of walks and a hit batter, and Maxwell needed an excellent diving play from Tiare Jennings at shortstop to keep the Seminoles off the board. 

The left-hander got FSU second baseman Devyn Flaherty to ground out to end the threat without surrendering the lead, but Maxwell needed 34 pitches to get out of the first inning alone. 

But then Jennings struck again. 

Instead of making an impressive play in the field, she put the Sooners on top 1-0 with a solo shot to straightaway center field. 

It was her 95th-career home run, leveling her with Lauren Chamberlain in the program’s all-time record books. 

— Oklahoma Softball (@OU_Softball) May 23, 2024

Brito reached with a two-out double and Kasidi Pickering drew a walk, but OU couldn’t extend the lead past 1-0.

Florida State starter Ashtyn Danley then hit Rylie Boone in the second inning, which turned into another run thanks to Alynah Torres’ double, but the Sooners stranded another pair to end the second. 

Flaherty didn’t go down quietly in the third, rifling a two-out single through the right side of OU’s infield in the third inning to tie the game at 2-2, but Oklahoma’s offense chased Danley out of the game in the third. 

Brito homered to lead off the frame, and then the Sooners quickly put another pair on thanks to a Pickering single and a Kinzie Hansen walk. 

Florida State’s defense misplayed Boone’s bunt, sailing the ball into foul territory to allow Pickering to score. 

Down 4-2, Seminole head coach Lonni Alameda was forced into a pitching change. 

Without Makenna Reid and Allison Royalty due to injury, FSU turned to its fifth option in Emma Wilson

Wilson immediately mishandled Torres’ grounder and had to settle for the out at first, allowing Hansen to score to extend Oklahoma’s lead to 5-2.

But Florida State again applied pressure on Maxwell in the fourth. 

The visitors put a pair on with no outs for the top of the lineup, but Brito made a fantastic catch to charge Kaley Mudge’s failed bunt attempt and turn a double play back at first. 

Alyssa. Brito.@alyss_33 turns two on the popped-up bunt!#ChampionshipMindset | 📺 ESPN2 pic.twitter.com/qQVju8y6uf

— Oklahoma Softball (@OU_Softball) May 24, 2024

“Our defense is so locked down,” Gasso said. “They had a chance to even try to score on Jayda, and they held them up. They’ve been watching our defense play. We really wanna do anything we can to help our pitchers get off the field and get back in the swing. We work on it a lot, they’ll tell you. We do practice it a lot.”

With a new lease on life, Maxwell got out of the frame to keep the three-run lead intact. 

Brito’s first home run was a line drive, but her second was a moonshot in the fourth inning. 

She clobbered Wilson’s 2-1 delivery, sending a two-run shot high up the bleachers in left-center field to extend the advantage to 7-2.

The OU third baseman is embracing her last weekend playing in Norman as she hopes to propel the team to the WCWS.

“It’s the last time we get to play at Love’s Field together so for me, I’m just enjoying the moments,” Brito said. “Trying to take that into – hopefully, we can get there next week and take it day by day and pitch by pitch and being present in everybody’s at-bats. Just doing it together.”

𝐁𝐑𝐈𝐓𝐎 💣 𝐗 ✌️@alyss_33 crushes a two-run blast for her third multi-home run game of the season!#ChampionshipMindset pic.twitter.com/ZbOalRgFee

— Oklahoma Softball (@OU_Softball) May 24, 2024

Two batters later, Hansen crushed a two-run shot of her own, though she had to wait through a review to see if Pickering left first base early to confirm the bomb. 

The call stood, and Cydney Sanders pushed the game to run-rule territory with an RBI-single to put OU on top 10-2. 

Maxwell was sent back into the circle to close the game in the fifth, though she initially didn’t look like she was going to go the distance. She walked the first two batters of the inning, and though she battled back to record two outs, Jahni Kerr delivered a two-out, RBI-single to cut the deficit to 10-3 and extend the game into the bottom of the fifth.

Oklahoma loaded the bases for Pickering with one out, only needing one run to end the game with a run-rule. With the count full, the freshman drew a walk to seal the win.

Brito finished the night a perfect 3-for-3 with three RBIs and a walk, Pickering went 2-for-2 at the plate and Jennings ended the night 1-for-3 with the lone RBI and a walk. 

Maxwell allowed four hits and walked six Seminole batters, but ended the night with three strikeouts and the win.

“Kelly fought her rear end off for this. That’s a tough-hitting team,” Gasso said. “… The message (to her) is fight through it because we all have to learn how to do that… If we get to the World Series you’ve got to fight through really tough times.

“…  For Kelly to stay through that and fight through that and throw over 100 pitches, that’s a victory.”

Oklahoma can clinch a return to the WCWS with a victory over Florida State on Friday at 7 p.m. at Love’s Field.

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