Sooners fall short of championship dream

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Alabama Crimson Tide have secured the SEC's first ever softball national championship, knocking off the Oklahoma Sooners 5-4 Wednesday night in a winner-take-all Women's College World Series final game.

"I mean, who wouldn't want to be the first SEC team to win it," said Alabama pitcher Jackie Traina. "It makes it that much better because you know you're going to be the first to do it."

Alabama rallied from early deficits in both of the final two games, too, to do so.

"For us, I don't think it's sunk in yet," said Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy. "It's been a long time coming. It's just been an incredible nine or 10 days here in Oklahoma City, and each game just got better and better and better. I'm just thrilled with the championship."

Trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning with the rain beginning to fall again following a two-hour rain delay to start the game at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, the Tide put together a rally to go ahead for good.

And much of it was self-inflicted by the Sooners.

Ace pitcher Keilani Ricketts threw three wild pitches to plate Alabama's first run.

"Honestly, I just wanted to pitch through it," Ricketts said. "I wasn't really focused on the rain. I didn't realize it was affecting the way I was pitching, even though I was throwing a lot of wild pitches. I was just so focused on trying to get through it, even though the rain kept coming down, and it was affecting the way I was pitching."

That paved the way for a 12-minute rain delay, during which the Tide stole away all the momentum.

They chanted and cheered, rallying up their team and fans, and stormed back out of the delay with all of the energy.

"We cheer all the time," Locke said. The dugout is always going crazy. We call ourselves the Wolf Pack, you know. The fans, they had everything they could think of to make noise."

Another wild pitch, a throwing error and a pair of huge two-out run-scoring hits, including an RBI single from Alabama designated player Amanda Locke and RBI double by third baseman Courtney Conley, allowed the Tide to add three more runs and take the lead at 4-3.

It really just seemed like a different Crimson Tide team from after the rain delay compared to the first couple innings.

Same for the Sooners. They weren't quite as crisp and were shaky in the field from that point on.

"We came out with everything that we thought was going to be it," said OU head coach Patty Gasso. "We came out on fire, absolutely. But I could see that Mother Nature was taking its course. Unfortunately, the time when it was getting heavier on us, there is nothing we can do about that."

Alabama added another run on Traina's RBI single in the fifth.

A controversial play in the seventh didn't go OU's way, or this one could have been headed to extras.

Sooner center fielder Destinee Martinez slapped a ball down the line and was destined to beat it out but collided with Alabama first baseman Cassie Reilly-Boccia.

The umps corralled and called Martinez out, though it looked like Boccia may indeed have induced the contact.

"Destinee was on the wrong side of the line," Gasso said. "When there was that collision, that was the right call. She was just trying to be aggressive, trying to make something happen. It was a tough play. She was just trying to make something happen."

OU slugger Lauren Chamberlain smashed a homer to right, her second of the game, just after that which would have tied the game had the call went differently.

Instead, it simply drew OU within one and Ricketts struck out looking to end it.

The Sooners struck first on Ricketts' second-inning homer.

Chamberlain blasted a two-run bomb to left in the third and it was 3-0 OU at the time before the second dose of rain set in.

"We did not look good in the first couple of innings," Murphy said. "She [Ricketts] struck out five of the first six, and it was 3-0 before you blink. But that's a great quality of these young ladies. I don't think anybody was panicking. The little break helped us. They let off some steam and did some cheers, and it was like, ‘Okay, we get to play again.'"

With her two home runs, Chamberlain led all hitters, going 2-for-3 with three RBI.

Locke finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored for the Tide.

The Sooners finish the season just one win short of their dream at 54-10 overall.

"It wasn't our time," Gasso said. "We know that. We know when it's right. We'll be back and it will be ours. We've learned a lot in how to do this."

Meanwhile, Alabama ends 60-8 as 2012 National Champions, securing that very much elusive first national title.

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