NORMAN, Okla. — Washington had waited almost two years to get to this point. After having to sit out 2020 due to COVID-19 and go through a 2021 campaign that was as unusual as any the program has seen, the Huskies were one step away from landing in the Women’s College World Series again.
However, standing in the way was one of the most dominant softball teams in NCAA history. And after dropping the first game of the NCAA Super Regional on Friday, their season was on the line.
The Huskies were going to need their best performance of the year if they wanted to keep their championship hopes alive.
Unfortunately for the No. 16 seed Huskies, that was not the performance they got as they fell 9-1 in five innings to No. 1 Oklahoma on Saturday in Game 2 of the NCAA Norman Super Regional at Marita Hynes Field.
“If you watch the game and you’re a fan, you’re probably pissed off,” Husky coach Heather Tarr said. “But those people who are actually in the program and know how good this team is, just know we were outdueled by Oklahoma, a very good team. Quite possibly, one through nine in the lineup, some of the best offensive players who are in the game. And when you have to deal with that two days in a row, no matter who you are, it’s a very challenging lineup to deal with.”
Coming off a tough 4-2 loss in Game 1 of the series, the Huskies had every right to believe they could not only hang with the juggernaut Sooners (50-2), but maybe pull off the upset. Yet from the outset of Game 2, things didn’t go their way.
It was a slow start for UW hurler Gabbie Plain. After allowing the first two batters to get a hit, the senior threw a wild pitch that scored OU’s Tiare Jennings.
It looked like Oklahoma was going to get its offense going. But Plain settled down and got out of the inning only trailing 1-0.
Plain’s struggles stretched into the second when Oklahoma was able to load the bases. Plain walked Jayda Coleman to bring another run home.
But once again Plain pitched her way out of the jam and held the Sooners to a 2-0 advantage.
In the bottom of the second, it looked like the Huskies were going to get on the scoreboard when Sarah Willis came to bat. With two outs she clubbed a high fly ball into right field that was on path to leave the stadium. However, it only got to the warning track and the Sooners got the out to end the inning.
Tarr brought in Pat Moore to relieve Plain. But that didn’t slow down OU. The Sooners’ Jana Johns blasted a two-run homer in the third to put Oklahoma up 4-0.
UW got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third on a Baylee Klingler single that brought home Jadelyn Allchin. Yet the Huskies were unable to cause any more damage offensively.
“We’re probably not as offensive as we could be as a group,” Tarr said. “Against a good team that is looking for blood, not wanting you to compete with them, they are not going to make it easy on you. They are not going to give you anything. You are going to have to work hard to make them do something different. There were times our offense was able to do that, and there were times our offense went down quiet. It was challenging to respond ultimately for our team today.”
The Sooners struck back in the fourth with a two-run homer from Jocelyn Alo (30) and a solo shot from Kinzie Hansen (21). OU is second all time with 146 home runs in a season.
The Sooners added two more runs in the fifth to put the contest away.
Oklahoma’s redshirt senior Shannon Saile (17-0) picked up the complete-game victory after allowing only four hits and striking out five in five innings.
Plain (32-4) gave up 10 hits and six earned runs in four innings of work.
“It was definitely not her zone,” Tarr said of Plain. “And Gabbie knows she has to adjust to it. I am hoping Gabbie learns a lot from this experience, because she is better than she showed I think this week. We relied on her heavily. I don’t think the extensive amount of innings she pitched led to her not being able to do as well as she could have.”
The Sooners advanced to their fifth straight Women’s College World Series while the Huskies’ (45-14) season came to an end after being swept. Despite the tough loss, they end the campaign with happy memories as well. That is especially true for the senior class.
“I am really grateful to have the opportunity to play with each and every one of the girls in our senior class,” Klingler said. “And all of them kind of leaving something different. Everyone has their own special characteristic that is huge for our program. Every single one of them left an impact on our program.”