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OU softball one win away from fourth straight national championship, downs No. 1 Texas

Bob Przybyloby:Bob Przybylo06/05/24

BPrzybylo

OKLAHOMA CITY – So much for the fatigue factor for OU softball. So much for the emotional drain of getting to the Women’s College World Series championship series. And so much for Texas being the fresher team.

You can rest this weekend, there’s work to do now. And OU did just that, going to work early and often and sending a statement.

The Sooners were simply better than Texas in every way possible in an 8-3 victory Wednesday night in Game 1 at OGE Field at Devon Park.

Game 2 is 7 p.m. Thursday on ESPN.

The key, though, was the start. Tiare Jennings, on her birthday, smashed a two-run home run in the top of the first. And if there was any thought of a tired team, it went out the window right there.

Texas not allowing a run in the first three games of the WCWS went out the window before you could even settle down on the couch.

And if there was any thought of a tired Kelly Maxwell, well, she shut that up all evening. Head coach Patty Gasso said in a pregame interview with ESPN about the importance of winning the first game. So even though Maxwell went all eight innings Tuesday and 148 pitches, she was back.

Maxwell has never been on this championship stage. She’s loving it, embracing it, dominating it. Maxwell allowed a solo home run in the first inning and shut it down.

She didn’t allow another hit for the next four innings against the vaunted Texas offense. By the time Maxwell allowed another hit, she had a six-run cushion in the sixth. Jennings doing her part again with an RBI single.

Maxwell went seven more innings Wednesday, throwing 119 pitches. She allowed four hits, one earned run, walked four and struck out eight. Add it all up? And that’s 267 pitches in 15 innings in two days.

In the biggest pressure moment of the evening, Maxwell recorded her sixth strikeout, leaving two runners on in the bottom of the sixth with a 7-3 advantage.

Maxwell got a little more help in the top of the third. First, it was a Kinzie Hansen two-run bomb. Freshman Kasidi Pickering followed with a back-to-back shot.

All three home runs? Absolutely no-doubters. Crushed. No. 2 in the rankings but played like the three-time national champions who are craving the fourth.

Now? They’re one game away. One more magnificent outing from writing their names in the record books once again.

No doubt it will be a different, better Texas team. But OU has shown they’re going to be ready. Round 2 coming up.

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