NORMAN — Oklahoma and Tennessee played a memorable marathon game in the Women’s College World Series championship, going 11 innings before Lauren Chamberlain ended the game with a home run and a Sooners’ victory.
In the first game of the Super Regional on Friday the teams found a way to play even longer, thanks to a two-hour, 37-minute rain delay. But the end result was the same, and OU walked away with an 8-1 victory in the first contest of the best-of-three series.
When OU and Tennessee met in the final game of the 2013 season, both sides were headlined by different players. For OU, it was USA Softball Player of the Year Keilani Ricketts, while Tennessee boasted Raven Chavanne, who was a top-three finalist for the same award. While both players graduated last season, there were still familiar faces, including Chamberlain and Tennessee ace Ellen Renfroe.
But it was a newcomer to the series who stole the show.
Oklahoma pitcher Kelsey Stevens was good but not great in last weekend’s regional, as she struggled at times against a hard-hitting Texas A&M team. Against the Volunteers on Friday, she was exceptional.
Nine of OU’s first 13 outs came on Stevens’ strikeouts, and the sophomore finished with 11 in the game, one off her career high. She rolled through the Tennessee lineup before the rain delay struck in the bottom of the third, and after working out of a jam in the fourth by allowing just one run after the Volunteers (45-11) put two runners on with one out, she rolled through the rest of the game.
“She was outstanding,” coach Patty Gasso said. “We’ve been waiting to see that loose competitive spirit back on the mound. She took last week and said ‘I’m better than this, my team is going to score runs and it’s going to be all right.’ She had good movement, a good mix.”