Tahlequah Daily Press

OU Sports

May 30, 2014

Alabama sends Sooners to loser's bracket at WCWS

Oklahoma struck first. Shelby Pendley made immediate amends for a disappointing debut in the Women’s College World Series last year by hitting a solo home run to left field and put Oklahoma on the board. She also entered the game to pitch and struck out the first two hitters she faced.

But Alabama struck back, harder. And the Sooners wouldn’t record another hit after Pendley’s shot. Alabama would, and the Crimson Tide walked away with a 6-2 victory in a first-round rematch of the last two national champions.

Jaclyn Traina was in the circle when the Tide won that title in 2012, defeating OU in the third game of the championship series. And the senior was back in the circle Thursday, striking out nine Sooners as she went the distance to earn the victory in dominating fashion.

“I was a little worried after she gave up that home run to Shelby in the first,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “I thought the crowd would get into it, but after that it was vintage Jaclyn Traina. It was a really good win for us to start the 2014 World Series.”

As good as it was for Alabama (51-11), it was bad for the defending champions from Norman. OU (50-12) stranded five baserunners, gave Alabama an unearned run on an error and struck out nine times, things coach Patty Gasso described as a disappointing and uncharacteristic performance.

“We didn’t compete with everything we had from the start to the finish, and at this venue against a team that good you can’t do that,” she said “The best way to say it is that we were playing defense on offense, and we’re better than that. We expected them to go around Lauren and I thought Shelby swung the bat well, but we didn’t have any production after that.”

Traina worked the OU lineup masterfully. She refused to give slugger Lauren Chamberlain — who is well-known for her home-run hitting at the World Series — anything to work with. She walked Chamberlain on eight straight pitches in her final two at-bats, and came back to strike out Pendley on one of those to end any chance of a rally.

Traina also kept the rest of the lineup completely off-guard. The Sooners allowed her to control the strike zone and went chasing pitches outside the zone, something that Gasso said stifled any chance they had of getting back into the game after Peyton Grantham’s fourth-inning home run gave Alabama a 4-2 lead and control of the game.

“I thought Traina threw very well, and I thought Alabama brought their best,” Gasso said. “They swung it very well and took advantage of opportunities that they had. They answered, like a good team does. I credit them for answering what we put out there, but we didn’t put anything out there.”

While Traina was dealing, OU ace Kelsey Stevens struggled in her first appearance at the World Series. The sophomore gave up seven hits, five earned runs and a pair of home runs in 4 1/3 innings of work. She struck out five and walked just one, but the home runs devastated the Sooners.

“I thought Kelsey started very strong and threw some really good pitches,” Gasso said. “Some of the pitches she threw that got hit hard looked like pretty good pitches. For her first outing, she was OK. She competed.”

OU hopes Stevens is better in her second outing. The Sooners face Louisiana-Lafayette, a team that took two of three from them in the regular season, at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in an elimination game.

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