Alabama wasn’t going to let Oklahoma ace Keilani Ricketts get in the way of its first national championship. It wasn’t going to let the rain do so, either.
After a three-hour rain delay, and another eleven minute break in the fourth inning, Alabama staged a comeback that will surely go down in Crimson Tide history, using a four-run fourth inning to beat the Oklahoma Sooners 5-4 and win the national championship for the first time in school history.
With Alabama trailing Oklahoma 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth, the umpires called time on the game after Ricketts threw a series of wild pitches that advanced Alabama sophomore Kaila Hunt from first base all the way home.
During the delay, the Sooners sat solemnly in their dugout, waiting on the drizzle to pass, while the Tide players danced and cheered, firing up the stagnant Alabama faithful that had made the trip to Oklahoma City.
That was all the inspiration the Tide needed, which came storming back as soon as play resumed.
Senior Amanda Locke sent a double to left field that scored senior Kendall Dawson, then junior Courtney Conley doubled up the middle to score Locke and tie the game. It looked like the inning would end when senior Jazlyn Lunceford hit a routine groundball to the shortstop, but a throwing error scored Dawson and put the Tide ahead.
“That rally was incredible,” Murphy told ESPN’s Holly Rowe after the game. “That’s the story with this group. They never give up.”
Alabama right-hander Jackie Traina capped her historic season with another bend-but-don’t-break performance in the circle. Traina, who was named the Women’s College World Series Most Outstanding Player, pitched all seven innings, allowing four earned runs on just five hits. She also struck out six and set the school record for strikeouts in a season.
The fourth-inning rally proved to be the turning point in a game that Oklahoma dominated from the start.
The Sooners struck first and struck often, starting with a solo home run from Ricketts in the second inning. In the third, Lauren Chamberlain hit a two-run shot that put the Sooners up 3-0 and appeared to shatter the morale of an Alabama team that entered the game with a sharp focus.
But the brief delay seemed to ignite the fire put out by the early scores and proved to be the difference in the winner-take-all game three.
The Tide added an insurance run in the fifth inning on an RBI single from Traina. Oklahoma hit a solo home run in the seventh to bring the game within one, but Traina, as she has all year, regrouped and struck out the next batter to win the championship.