OKLAHOMA CITY — Some teams are just special, others get where they’ve been trying to get to all season long, only to look nothing like the team that put itself on the big stage, and still others lose tight, close games, the kind nobody need hang their batting helmet-covered head over.
Oklahoma, back at the Women’s College World Series for the fourth straight season and this time playing the role of defending champ, was neither the former nor the latter Thursday night at Hall of Fame Stadium.
It was the impostor in the middle.
A pitcher, Kelsey Stevens, that, by the time she was pulled, was leading nothing at the WCWS but line drives and home runs allowed. Even Alabama’s outs were loud and rambunctious.
Meanwhile, the mystery that is Jackie Traina persists. She’s never been accused of being the nation’s best pitcher and her earned averages last year and this one are both higher than the ERAs she put up as a freshman and sophomore.
OU, however, cannot figure her out.
Two years ago, after midnight and in the rain, the Sooners made her look like the best thing Alabama’s produced since Joe Namath, and Thursday night they did it again.
Perhaps it is the karma price of what happened in New Orleans the night of Jan. 2, the night Trevor Knight grew up and the Sooners whipped the Tide 45-31.
If that’s the case, the Sooner Nation will gladly trade a Superdome victory for a late-night loss at the WCWS, but a lot of good that does Patty Gasso’s team heading into an off-day today, heading into a Saturday that must produce two victories just to keep the season going.
Maybe the real victory is OU’s being here at all. Stevens’ pitching has gotten better and better, but there’s no mistaking her for an All-American or, for crying out loud, the best player ever to wear the crimson and cream, Keilani Ricketts.