Cal ends OU's season; seniors end stellar careers

Oklahoma second baseman Tiffany Weight looks at the scoreboard while California shortstop Chelsea Spencer rounds second base after hitting a two-run homer in the seventh inning during Saturday night in Oklahoma City. Cal's 5-2 win eliminated the Sooners from the Women's College World Series

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Oklahoma's fourth straight trip to the Women's College World Series will go down as one that will be hard to look back on without thinking about what might have been for the Sooners' outstanding senior class.

The Sooners' hopes of capturing a second national title for Head Coach Patty Gasso and five outstanding seniors ended Saturday night with a 5-2 loss to California.

The loss marks the end of five fabulous careers from seniors Leah Gulla, Kelli Braitsch, Erin Evans, Tiffany Weight and Jennifer Stump.

"We gave it a good fight," said OU Head Coach Patty Gasso. "It seems like we get beat in the seventh inning, at least in this tournament against Washington and Cal."

"Our seniors went out with a bang in this tournament," Gasso continued. "I am proud of them and the effort of this team. Our goal was to be standing on Sunday and we just came up a little short."

In the end, the difference proved to be that Cal got timely hitting and Oklahoma didn't. The Sooners stranded ten runners on the evening, including bases loaded situations in the first and sixth innings.

It was a trio of seniors who helped the Sooners account for their only two runs on the night. OU took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Braitsch scored on a double by Gulla, and Stumps' solo home run in the bottom of the fifth cut Cal's lead to 3-2.

"I think that my home run kind of kept everybody in the game, knowing that we still had a chance," said Stump.

Oklahoma continued their comeback loading the bases in the sixth with two outs, but April Valdez grounded out to short ended the rally. Cal then responded in the top half of the seventh with a two-run home run by Chelsea Spencer to extend their lead to 5-2.

Braitsch got the Sooners' rally started in their last at-bat with a lead-off walk, but only advanced to third after the next three batters were retired to end the game.

After the game, Gasso commented on Gulla, Braitsch and Stump in an emotional press conference.

"I am so proud of Leah Gulla," said Gasso. "She came here as a freshman starting at shortstop and was moved to third base. She didn't want to play third but she became one of the best third baseman I've ever seen. When they announced her as a first-team All-American I felt like a parent because I was so proud and excited for her.

"Kelli (Braitsch) is one of thrills and chills," Gasso said with a grin. "She has had some ups and downs but she is the greatest kid you'll ever meet. Everyone loves her and she has a great personality.

"Jennifer Stump used to be the kid that came into the dugout after an at bat and cry every time because she didn't hit the ball as hard as she wanted to," recalled Gasso. "I have seen her grow so much. She really matured as a senior and started to take things as they came. To see her walk away with this series, I really feel like she can just go on with life."

"I will remember our never-say-die attitude," said Braitsch, thinking back of her teammates' careers. "We just came out and kept fighting. We knew that if we were going down, we were going down with a fight."

Oklahoma finishes the 2003 with 47 wins and 14 losses.

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