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Horning: Sooners just too deep to be chased from World Series

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WCWS James Madison Oklahoma Softball

Oklahoma's Grace Lyons, center, celebrates with teammates Lynnsie Elam (22) and Kinzie Hansen (9) after scoring in the fifth inning at the Women's College World Series on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Because they asked, I went with Mackenzie Donihoo to join Giselle Juarez for Monday’s postgame Zoom call.

Juarez was a no-brainer.

She’d probably done what no pitcher in the history of the World Series had ever done during Oklahoma’s 7-1 victory over James Madison on Monday, giving up a home run on the first pitch she threw, yet not another run, meaning she recorded 21 outs without allowing a run, but did not throw a shutout and how’s that for strange and wonderful?

Donihoo entered Monday’s third tussle with James Madison having not come to the plate at all on Thursday, the day the Dukes beat the Sooners, yet having gone 6 of 9 since entering Monday, when she went 1 for 3, the hit a two-run double to the left-center field gap that didn’t get to the wall, but because she never slowed there was no play on her at second base. That, and she knocked two home, giving the Sooners real separation and a 6-1 lead.

So I voted for her.

Alas, nobody listened and they brought Jayda Coleman into the call instead and who can blame them, the Sooner third baseman went 2 for 3, drove in two and did you know she’s hitting .451?

Of course, they could have gone with Jocelyn Alo, who hit her second home run of the World Series, her nation’s most 32nd of the season, or Kinzie Hansen, who didn’t lash an extra base hit, but went 2 for 3, reached base three times, drove in a run, scored a run and raised her average to .450

There was no argument to be made for Tiare Jennings. She went 0 for 4, struck out twice and watched her average tumble to a paltry .463, so maybe the next time she suffers a game like Monday’s will be her junior year, two years from now.

They could have brought Nicole Mendes, who went 2 for 4 and got the carousel moving with a fourth-inning triple. Perhaps it’s just a long way of saying, if you think OU’s a team of destiny, you may be employing the wrong calculus.

What Juarez is doing is amazing and special and inspiring, having now thrown 17 1/3 innings this World Series, yielding 10 hits and a single run, striking out 25 against three walks.

Yet, the biggest reason OU finds itself back in the best 2-of-3 championship series for a fourth time in five World Series is the Sooners are ridiculously strong, top to bottom, and they just don’t stop. There’s no safe place for an opponent to go.

Odicci Alexander, who received a standing ovation from Sooner fans when removed in the fifth inning, tamed OU for one game.

The Sooners, though, got two more cracks, figured out a way not to chase her riser out of the strike zone and hit her for 12 runs over 11 2/3 innings the next two times they saw her.

It’s hard to figure how any one pitcher from Florida State might hold them down more than once or that the Seminoles might possibly have two different pitchers able to do it once.

The old adage is good pitching gets out good hitting, yet great pitching can’t seem to slow the Sooners more than a day.

The moral of the story?

The moral of the story is I thought they should have brought Donihoo in to answer questions, but they could have chosen anybody.

Clay Horning

405 366-3526

Follow me @clayhorning

cfhorning@normantranscript.com

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