Game 8: Missouri 4, Oklahoma 1
- Missouri (53-9) won its second WCWS game in school history (last win came in 1991) with its 4-1 victory over Oklahoma (43-19). The Tigers had lost all five of their WCWS games over the last three years. They are 2-11 all-time in the WCWS and 37-31 in the NCAA tournament.
- The Tigers’ four runs were their most ever in a WCWS game.
- Missouri has won three straight over the Sooners (all this season) and closed the gap in the overall series record, which stands at 49-40 in favor of OU.
- Missouri senior Rhea Taylor picked up her 70th hit of the season today in the fourth inning. Taylor has recorded at least 70 hits in each of her four years at Missouri.
- Missouri sophomore Nicole Hudson hit her 14th double of the year, which is tied for 10th most in a single season at Missouri.
- Missouri sophomore pitcher Chelsea Thomas notched her 32nd win of the year (against seven losses), tying her for the MU single-season record (Teresa Wilson won 32 games in 1981). The complete game was her 30th of the year, ranking her seventh on the Tigers’ single-season list. Thomas allowed six hits and two walks while striking out six. Four of Oklahoma’s hits came in the seventh inning.
- Oklahoma sophomore pitcher Keilani Ricketts took the loss, finishing the year with a 29-15 record. She gave up four runs (only one earned) on six hits and one walk while striking out five.
- Oklahoma senior Dani Dobbs made her first career start at catcher for the Sooners, replacing an injured Katie Norris. Dobbs homered to lead off the seventh inning, her ninth of the season and 15th of her career.
- Oklahoma sophomore Brianna Turang went 2-for-4 at the plate to extend her hitting streak to eight games (all in the NCAA tournament). She went 16-for-30 (.533) during the postseason.
- OU freshman Destinee Martinez ended the season with 230 at-bats, third most on the Big 12 single-season list. Martinez had one hit in four plate appearances today.
- The Sooners committed a season-high four errors today. OU’s previous high was three, which occurred six times.
- OU fell to 7-10 all-time in the WCWS and to 57-35 all-time in the NCAA tournament. This was the Sooners’ sixth WCWS appearance.
- Today’s attendance of 8,161 represented a WCWS Session 4 record and marked the eighth largest single-session crowd in event history. Through four sessions, this year’s WCWS total attendance is 32,220 (8,055 average). The current record for per-session attendance for an entire WCWS is 6,724 (set last year).
MISSOURI HEAD COACH EHREN EARLEYWINE
“I was impressed with the girls; you know, playing hard and not folding up just because they lost the first game. I’m not going to lie, it’s a very worried feeling when you’re in the losers’ bracket and you’re playing Oklahoma. I mean those two things shouldn’t coexist. They are such a good program. And then the fact that we had beat them twice in the regular season scares you even more just because of the law of averages. So, proud of our girls for just playing softball.”
On finally getting a win after five WCWS losses:
“I guess if you run the same play enough times, eventually you’re going to figure it out. It’s a good feeling, for sure. It’s hard to explain how bound up I felt after the last game. So, it’s just a good feeling to know that we can and against a really good team. We didn’t play well, especially defensively, but it was good enough to win and that’s OK here.”
On what he told his team after losing to Florida on Thursday and preparing for this game:
“Everybody was feeling bad enough as is, so I didn’t want to make it worse. I just wanted to tell them that the mountain that’s in front of them of playing Oklahoma – our memories go back to the games at Mizzou. Those were like marathon games; you know, 10 or 11 innings, win by one run, you’re drained for the next three or four days. So, I just wanted to send my team a message that if you can get past this game then you’ve got Baylor. And that’s no disrespect to Baylor. It’s just to provide a little light at the end of the tunnel. You know it’s not an impossible thing to win two or three games. So it was just a not let the Oklahoma thing devastate you and immobilize you, because if that’s the way you thought of it, it could be paralyzing. To think, ‘Oh my gosh, we just got beat, we didn’t play well and now we’ve got Oklahoma?’ I was just trying to get them to look at the big picture a little bit.”
MISSOURI SENIOR DESIGNATED PLAYER CATHERINE LEE
On how both teams seemed to be making more errors than usual:
“Well, I wasn’t on the field on defense, so watching from the dugout we knew that it was going to be all right. We had to make it somewhat of a game, right? Those are uncharacteristic for both teams. You don’t really see that a lot, so I think both teams were able to capitalize. But luckily Chelsea (Thomas) kind of stepped up and it didn’t really shake her, so Chelsea pitched through that. I think maybe that’s what happened to Oklahoma, that once those things started happening our hitters are too good. We get the momentum, we’re going to go with it. It was uncharacteristic, but we were ready to capitalize.”
MISSOURI SENIOR CENTER FIELDER RHEA TAYLOR
On finally getting her first Women’s College World Series win and what it means:
“It definitely means a lot because, like I said before, we went two-and-barbeque the past two years. We just weren’t about that this year. Granted, we lost against Florida and they are a good team. We made it in our minds that we had to forget about losing to Florida and come out today and play our best softball. So, I think this is what was supposed to happen.”
MISSOURI SOPHOMORE PITCHER CHELSEA THOMAS
On how much more comfortable she felt playing today than playing Florida on Thursday:
“I don’t feel like I was any more comfortable today. I mean, of course getting to play them (Oklahoma) two times already, we got to see their batters a lot. I think we just had to stick with our game plan today and we did.”
MISSOURI SOPHOMORE NICOLE HUDSON
On the rundown that allowed two Missouri players to score in the sixth inning:
“Well, I felt pretty good when I saw how early she (Dani Dobbs) turned to throw to third. I was still halfway down the line, maybe even a little bit closer to home plate. So I just took off and about the time I broke home I realized there wasn’t anybody there. And Ashley (Fleming) was right on my heels.”
HEAD COACH PATTY GASSO
“’Proud’ is not a strong enough word for me to describe how I feel about this team. We’ve gone through quite a bit with a pretty tough schedule that we’ve had to play. (There was) adversity again today with (catcher) Katie Norris having an elbow sprain and really unable to go. So Dani Dobbs takes the reins – a senior who has never caught a game in college – and putting her in the biggest environment she could ever dream of and was fantastic. Putting a freshman (Ali Vandever) over at third that may have played a little bit of third base for us back in February, a couple innings. Some of that backfired on us. You could see that we weren’t quite ready defensively for a couple things they had done on us. We kept fighting and figured things out offensively a little bit late. (We brought) the tying run to the plate in the seventh inning. This is a team that won’t quit, won’t take ‘no’ for answer, and continues to find ways to play hard for each other, for their coaches, for their university. (I’m) just extremely proud – even the fact that we made it here. When we got here, we weren’t just happy to be here. We wanted to win. (It’s) just tough to be able to beat some great teams here with the adversity we were going through. But we gave it everything and more that we could.”
On the sixth-inning run down between third and home that resulted in two Missouri runs:
“Well, it was a squeeze play that the hitter missed. (Catcher) Dani (Dobbs) started to run down and didn’t have anybody to fall in behind her. I think we were all kind of shocked it happened. Again, it was just a different dynamic; we weren’t used to seeing Dani (Dobbs) maybe running out. It’s something that hasn’t really happened to us all season. I think we were kind of all standing there watching. We needed to have somebody there covering home plate. It was just bad timing on our part.”
On how Jessica Shults talked her way into the lineup today:
“Part of it is her smile and the look she has. She’s been really working hard at practice to work on her swing and is one of the best hitters in the country. Even when she’s at 30 percent it’s pretty dang good. I wanted to give her an opportunity to step forward for her team because she’s been dying for that opportunity. She’s worked hard for it and I think it helped inspire the team a little bit to see her with that bat in her hand.”
OKLAHOMA SOPHOMORE PITCHER KEILANI RICKETTS
On if the team’s youth makes the moment feel like the beginning of something rather than the end of something:
“I feel like we’ve definitely accomplished our goal this year. We wanted to get to the World Series. We gained a lot from this, and even though we went two games (and out) we learned a lot. We just want our goals to be bigger next year.”
OKLAHOMA SENIOR FIRST BASEMAN CHANA’E JONES
On what it felt like on the field with players in positions they don’t customarily play:
“Like Coach said, it was a little different out there with Dani (Dobbs) behind the plate. Everyone is confident on this team. That is one thing I know about this team, is that everybody is confident no matter what we’ve gone through this year. It was different, but no one was panicking. It was just different. The chemistry wasn’t there, really.”
OKLAHOMA SOPHOMORE DESIGNATED PLAYER JESSICA SHULTS
On if the team’s youth makes the moment feel like the beginning of something rather than the end of something:
“Definitely. I feel like this was building blocks for next year. We’ve got a lot of players coming back. We had great seniors to lead us this year and get us ready for next year, and lead this team and be back here next year.”
On her emotions and feelings about returning to the field after a long time:
“I was pretty excited to be back on the field; it’s been a long time. I’ve worked hard this last week to try to get back on the field. So it felt good. Even just being back with my team has been the biggest part. I love my team and it was awesome to get the experience here at the World Series in the dugout with them. And getting to play today was just an awesome feeling. I’m glad to be back.”
The Sooners had two players making their first career starts at their respective positions after an injury to catcher Katie Norris. Senior Dani Dobbs replaced Norris as OU’s starting catcher. Coach Gasso said Dobbs had never caught before. Freshman Ali Vandever made her first career start at third in place of Dobbs. Jessica Shults also returned to the lineup for the first time since May 8 as the designated player. Spy note: the four critical errors were made by Turang at 2nd, Ricketts in the circle, Dobbs behind the plate, and Henson at short.