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May 27, 2014

Sooners, Vols, conspired to bring their best for Game 3

NORMAN — Norman’s Super Regional between Oklahoma and Tennessee was eventful for more than one reason. Not only did the two competitors in last year’s national title series go the full amount of games in a tightly-contested best-of-three series, but it was a series that also included some off-the-field drama.

Namely, the weather delays that forced Saturday’s game back four hours put both teams into a predicament where they would be forced to start a game at 11:30 p.m. at night in order to finish on Saturday as originally scheduled. It was a confusing night for players, coaches and fans alike after officials announced the game would start shortly before midnight.

But that turned out to be a decision that wasn’t set in stone. Both teams began to change dugouts while Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso and Tennessee co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly spent several minutes at the plate discussing the situation, and all three came out solidly in favor of waiting until Sunday to play the third game.

That was a decision the NCAA had no plans for. It took a flurry of phone calls and a near-refusal by the coaches to play for the game to be moved to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

For Gasso and the Weeklys, it was an easy decision to make but a hard one to stand for. But in Gasso’s mind there was no other option.

“We felt we needed to stand united as a coaching front and say we refuse to play for the welfare of the student-athletes who had gotten home the night before at one in the morning,” she said. “You’re going to play the biggest game of your career, to go to the World Series, at 1130? That’s unfair and not right.”

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