By Arnie Leshin
The final curtain closed Thursday night on No. 1 Oklahoma’s historic record-breaking softball season. It was after a two-game sweep over 3rd-ranked Florida State University, the clincher at 3-1 at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
And to no one’s surprise, In the circle and sending her star-studded righthanded serves past the Seminoles was sophomore blazer Jordy Bahl. This time, she came on in relief of senior starter Alex Storako, and again took a turn scoring again as a pinch-runner.
That upped her side’s lead to 3-1 and she then set the side down in order to celebrate the best-ever won-lost percentage of 61-1, the best-ever record winning streak of 52 games, the seventh national World Series championship, and a record fifth in this decade.
Last year at this time, she was also on in relief after recovering from an inflamed upper arm injury, so this was back-to-back for her, but better, more confident in shutting down the Seminoles with her foursome of rise ball, change-up, fastball, and curve.
In her 53rd appearance in this postseason, she allowed two hits, struck out 46 and walked five.
FSU wound up at 58-10 and had its seven-game win streak end. After losing Game 1 of this best-of-3 series, 5-0, it broke up a scoreless contest with a solo home run from senior first baseman Mak Leonard in the last of the fourth inning.
It was hit off of starting righthander Alex Storako, a fastball that traveled just over the fence in left field.
But in the reverse batting order of this series, the Sooners came up first in the fifth and clouted a pair of solo shots, one off the bat of sophomore first sacker Cyndney Sanders on a 2-2 pitch from righty starter graduate senior Katharyn (Kat) Sandercock and landed in the left field seats, and five pitches later came the go-ahead from senior shortstop Grace Lyons, also over the fence in left.
Then Bahl was called on to work the remaining three frames, this after she pinch-ran in the sixth for senior Alynah Torres, than sped to second on a bunt from Kinzie Hansen, took third on a fly ball to deep right by senior outfielder Haley Lee, and scored on a fielder’s choice, thus she went 2-for-2 crossing the plate as a pinch-runner.
Quite a lot to do for the 5-foot-11 bundle of versatility Bahl, but it was also easy to name her Most Valuable Player of the World Series.
“I felt good out there”, she said, “I had confidence in what I was going to throw and I had everything working. Even when I was off the mark a little, I still responded with my best stuff.”
Long-time Sooners’ head coach Patty Gasso also had praise for her top hurler.
“She’s been terrific” Gasso said in regard to Bahl, “in all my years, one of the best I’ve had.”
Also individually, Oklahoma junior second baseman Tiare Jennings broke a team RBI record set by its all-time home run hitter Jocelyn Alo, and junior centerfielder Jayda Coleman set a team record for runs scored and outfield assists.
EXTRA POINTS — the previous winning streak had been 47 games by Arizona in the 1996-97 seasons, except that the Sooners did it in one campaign.
Oklahoma will return juniors Coleman, Jennings Alyssa Brito and Nicole May, sophomores Sanders, Bahl, Hannah Coor, and freshmen Jocelyn Erickson, Avery Hodge, S.J. Guerin, Qutncee Lilo, and Kirsten Deal.
Coleman, Jennings, Sanders, Brito, Erickson, and Bahl are present starters.
FSU will return juniors Devon Flaherty, Kaley Mudge, Kalei Harding,
Madi Backfap, Kalei Harding, Allison Royalty, Hallie Wacasek, and Emma Wilson, sophomores Ananyn Ross and Ali Chabela, and freshmen Avery Weisbrook and Makenna Reid.
Mudge, Flaherty, Harding, Weisbrook, Ross, are current starters.