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No second-guessing from Patty Gasso on pitching decision, OU backs now against the wall

Bob Przybyloby:Bob Przybylo06/03/24

BPrzybylo

OKLAHOMA CITY – OU softball coach Patty Gasso wasn’t planning for the ‘if’ game, but it’s the truth. The Sooners had that luxury if they couldn’t get the job done.

And Gasso was adamant in saying OU won’t be able to get the job done if it just rides Kelly Maxwell the entire way. Gasso went a different direction. It didn’t pan out, clearly, but that’s the way it works sometimes.

Nicole May and Kierston Deal didn’t have their finest hours, and now OU is one game away from being eliminated in the Women’s College World Series.

Florida hit four home runs en route to a 9-3 victory against the Sooners in the semifinals Monday afternoon at OGE Field at Devon Park.

The Sooners and Gators will meet again 1 p.m. Tuesday to see who will advance to the WCWS championship series.

“We got a staff. I got to show the staff that I believe in them,” Gasso said. “I don’t care because I know this team. Know what we need, know them. Kelly cannot take us all the way. She can’t. I have to get these guys on the field. I’ve got to get them on the mound, got to get them the experience or we aren’t going anywhere.

“I thought Nicole threw some really good pitches, as did KD. They were just getting hit, hard, timely hits.”

May had been lights out throughout her postseason outings, but the Gators were ready for the OU senior. May allowed six hits and four earned runs in just two innings pitched. Deal, a sophomore, allowed a three-run home run and a two-run shot in her 3.2 innings.

Maxwell was brilliant in Saturday’s 1-0 victory against UCLA. With a day off, there is a strong argument to be made for Maxwell to have been back in the circle.

But Gasso isn’t playing that game. Time to move on.

“What I also thought is if we were not going to win this game for some reason, then we have Kelly rested and ready to play game two, which should have been happening right now,” Gasso said. “So that may have backfired on me (laughter). But it didn’t because I have to pitch my pitching staff. I can’t keep leaning on Kelly to take us all the way through.”

Gasso’s not wrong. The schedule was set up in a way that the ‘if’ game was supposed to happen immediately after the initial one.

However, a three-hour rain delay to begin the day Monday got everything off track. So even though Florida ace Keagan Rothrock threw 130 pitches Monday, she can rest until Tuesday.

Deal gave up four hits, five runs and walked four in relief.

Tiare Jennings did hit a two-run home run for OU, but it was too little and way too late. Back at it Tuesday.

The loss snapped OU’s ridiculous 20-game winning streak in NCAA Tournament games, dating back to 2022.

Just a little off

It wasn’t just the pitching, though. OU, however, was off in all facets of the game. Not a terrible performance by any means, but nothing like what OU had been doing in the last month.

Gasso includes herself in that one, too.

Rylie Boone smoked one to deep center in the second inning. It was an incredible catch by Florida’s Kendra Falby, but Kasidi Pickering absolutely should have scored on a sacrifice fly.

“That was totally my fault. I own that one,” Gasso said. “That was an unbelievable play. I’m looking up. I’m telling her, OK, it’s through, go. Looking for the next runner. That was on me. It was nothing she did wrong. I own that.

“That was just part of it. It’s part of it. They made great plays. They really played some great defense, playing to win. You could see that.”

Boone was involved in another mishap in the bottom of the second.

Falby hit a blooper down the left field line. Boone attempted to made the diving catch, but the ball then trickled by Boone and rolled to the wall. Falby earned an inside-the-park home run to give the Gators even more life.

Torres update

It was Avery Hodge at second base for OU, and it doesn’t look like that’s about to change. Gasso, however, gave the update on Alynah Torres, saying Torres has not been medically cleared.

“Alynah has not been cleared yet,” Gasso said. “There’s still some, like, blood in her eye. Until that is completely gone, she will not be on the field. That’s where they are right now. So she may or may not. Hopefully, but we’re not going to do anything to jeopardize her either.”

Torres was injured when a pop fly smacked her in the face Saturday after she lost it in the sun. Torres was with the team Monday.

Hodge went 1-for-3 with a run scored.

Up next

Texas, however, is in. The Longhorns have not allowed a run in three games through the WCWS. UT finished off Stanford 1-0 on Monday evening and will have a full day to rest, just watching the Sooners and Gators.

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