OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma struck first. Shelby Pendley made immediate amends for a disappointing debut in the Women’s College World Series last year by hitting a solo home run to left field and put Oklahoma on the board. She also entered the game to pitch and struck out the first two hitters she faced.
But Alabama struck back, harder. And the Sooners wouldn’t record another hit after Pendley’s shot. Alabama would, and the Crimson Tide walked away with a 6-2 victory in a first-round rematch of the last two national champions.
Jaclyn Traina was in the circle when the Tide won that title in 2012, defeating OU in the third game of the championship series. And the senior was back in the circle Thursday, striking out nine Sooners as she went the distance to earn the victory in dominating fashion.
“I was a little worried after she gave up that home run to Shelby in the first,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “I thought the crowd would get into it, but after that it was vintage Jaclyn Traina. It was a really good win for us to start the 2014 World Series.”
As good as it was for Alabama (51-11), it was bad for the defending champions from Norman. OU (50-12) stranded five baserunners, gave Alabama an unearned run on an error and struck out nine times, things coach Patty Gasso described as a disappointing and uncharacteristic performance.
“We didn’t compete with everything we had from the start to the finish, and at this venue against a team that good you can’t do that,” she said “The best way to say it is that we were playing defense on offense, and we’re better than that. We expected them to go around Lauren and I thought Shelby swung the bat well, but we didn’t have any production after that.”