The Shay "Clutch"Knighten Show: Oklahoma Repeats As WCWS National Champions

Rob Ferguson/USA TODAY Sports
Somehow, someway the Oklahoma Sooners won the WCWS and are college softball National Champions for the second consecutive year and three times in five years.
 
We'll call it the Shay Knighten Show, as the sophomore infielder was so clutch in two WCWS games to help No. 10 seed Oklahoma beat the No. 1 overall seed Florida Gators.
 
null
(Photo By Rob Ferguson/USA TODAY Sports)

After Monday's marathon, epic, 17-inning game that Oklahoma won 7-5, the Sooners eked out a 5-4 win on Tuesday night to win the National Title.
 
Shay Knighten provided the heroics early on Tuesday. With the Gators clinging to a 3-2 lead in the second inning, Knighten cleared the bases with a three-run double off senior ace Delanie Gourley to give Oklahoma 5-3 lead.
 
On Monday night, Knighten hit a game-winning home run off Florida's other ace pitcher, Kelly Barnhill. That's about as impressive as it gets against two of the best pitchers in the country.
 
After OU took the 5-3 lead on Tuesday night, the Gators responded with a run in the third inning to draw closer to 5-4. But, neither team scored again the rest of the game.
 
For WCWS Most Outstanding Player Shay Knighten, she finished the 2017 WCWS hitting .350 with a home run, 8 RBI, and six of those RBIs in the Championship Series.

Pitcher by Committee in Game 2 of WCWS 

After Oklahoma and Florida battled for 17 innings on Monday, it was anyone's guess which pitchers would be effective on Tuesday.
 
So, early on, the hitters took advantage. All nine total runs in the game were scored in the first two and a half innings as the Sooners and Gators tried to figure out who could pitch.
 
The Gators' Kelly Barnhill never got into the game, as she was reserved for a closing opportunity or was saved to pitch Game 3 if Florida could tie the series.
 
null
(Photo By Rob Ferguson/USA TODAY Sports)

That left it up to Aleshia Ocasio and Gourley. Ocasio gave up four runs on four hits in one-plus inning, then Gourley gave up the big hit to Shay Knighten before settling down in the final innings.
 
Meanwhile, Oklahoma tried to start the game with Paige Parker, but she gave up three runs on four hits. So, the Sooners turned to Nicole Mendes and Mariah Lopez. That set up Paige Lowary for a two-inning save. And, Lowary got the job done, not allowing a hit and striking out two Gators to win the WCWS.

null
(Photo By Rob Ferguson/USA TODAY Sports)

Oklahoma vs. Florida Was Everything We Could Ask For 

Overall, the 2017 WCWS was the result of seven years of buildup. Now, either Oklahoma or Florida has won the last five National Titles. And, either Oklahoma or Florida has appeared in the last seven WCWS Championship Series.
 
But, the Sooners and Gators had not crossed paths during this recent run. That's why Game 1 was so epic because these programs are so battle-tasted, so talented, and so familiar with the bright lights and big stage of the WCWS. Neither team was going to flinch. It was just going to come down to one or two mistakes.
 
That set the stage for a wild Game 2 that started hot with a lot of offense before settling down into a pitcher's duel over the last four innings.
 
This very easily could have ended with Florida winning Games 1 and 2 to claim their third National Title in four years. That's how razor thin the margin was between these two elite programs.

[tweet url="https://twitter.com/GatorsSB/status/872278976483536897" hide_media="0" hide_thread="1"]

Instead, Oklahoma and head coach Patty Gasso claimed their fourth overall National Title.
 
How Oklahoma arrived at this point is legendary. And, also why Coach Gasso broke down in tears after the final out was recorded.

The Preseason Voters Got it Right After All

This year's college softball season was completely unpredictable. No. 1 teams lost left and right, unbelievable upsets like Maryland beating Florida happened so many times, and Oklahoma nearly lost their Regional before even making it to OKC.
 
Go back in time to the beginning of the season, though. Oklahoma, the defending National Champions, was voted No. 1 in the country in the preseason poll.
 
Then, Oklahoma traveled to Mexico and lost to Auburn and Washington their first weekend of the season.
 
After seemingly getting back on track, the Sooners traveled to California, where they lost to Tennessee and Notre Dame at the Mary Nutter Classic.
 
The Sooners seemed to get back on track again, but they went back to Southern California, where they lost to Arizona and then twice to Cal Poly.
 
Those two losses to Cal Poly in mid-March turned the season around. Oklahoma returned to Norman, got right before the start of Big 12 play, and then went on a tear. The Sooners won 27 of 28 games, with the lone loss being against Baylor.
 
But then came more adversity. The Sooners lost the first game of their own Regional against North Dakota State. So, Oklahoma had to battle all the way through the loser's bracket just to make it out of their Regional. And, in the Regional, the Sooners needed come-from-behind wins against Arkansas and Tulsa to advance.
 
In the Super Regionals, Oklahoma swept Auburn in a rematch from the 2016 WCWS. Then, the Sooners went undefeated in the WCWS, including two epic wins against Florida in the WCWS Championship Series.
 
Overall, the Sooners won 38 of their last 40 games. They lost once to Baylor in Norman and once to North Dakota State in the Regionals in Norman. That means they did not lose a single road or neutral site game in the final two and a half months of the season.
 
It was quite the turnaround for the team voted No. 1 in the preseason poll. This team had it in them to pull off this kind of run, but it did not seem likely based on where they started.
 
Shay Knighten showed, though, that it's how you finish. And Oklahoma is back-to-back WCWS National Champions after an epic battle with the No. 1 overall seed Florida Gators that provided a legendary conclusion to a wild, unpredictable 2017 college softball season.

[tweet url="https://twitter.com/OU_Softball/status/872280025332154368" hide_media="0" hide_thread="1"]

Pitcher Lacie Ham Hospitalized After Being Struck By A Line Drive

OC Batbuster Campbell pitcher/first baseman Lacie Ham was rushed to the hospital on Sunday after she was struck by a line drive to the temple. She was diagnosed with a skull fracture in the ICU and seems to be recovering well. 

New NCAA Transfer Rule Waives Permission-To-Contact Process

Gary Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

Good news for college players who want to transfer. NCAA Division I student-athletes will now have the ability to transfer without granted permission from their current schools, effective October 15, 2018. 

FloSoftball Accepting FAB 50 Club Teams Nominations

Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports

We are currently updating the FAB 50 club rankings and want to hear from you about the top teams in the country!

Eugene Lenti Retires After 37 Seasons As DePaul Softball Coach

DePaul Athletics

After a nearly 40-year run at DePaul, Eugene Lenti has retired as the Blue Demons' head softball coach.

This Week's Verbal Commitments & Team Changes (6/14)

Orlando Jorge Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports

We are still catching up on many verbals that were made before the early contact date was changed. This week alone we've added more than 70 commits, along with some team changes.

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloSoftball!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

USSSA Pride To Host NPF’s First-Ever LGBT Pride Night

USSSA Pride

As we kick off June’s LGBT Month, the USSSA Pride announced they will host professional softball’s first-ever LGBT Pride Night on June 20 to celebrate diversity and inclusion. 

The Ugly Side Of Early Specialization

Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports

By Kaila Holtz @kailaholtz

Amanda Lorenz Joins USA WNT At Japan All-Star Series

Rob Ferguson/USA TODAY Softball

OKLAHOMA CITY — USA Softball announced today that Amanda Lorenz (Moorpark, Calif.) will be joining the USA Softball Women’s National Team (WNT) at the 2018 Japan All-Star Series.  Lorenz, an outfielder who will be entering her senior season at the University of Florida, returns to the USA Softball WNT program with previous experience, having played on the 2016 Women's Elite Team.Lorenz, along with the Japan All-Star Series roster, will go through training camp and exhibition games this week at the Scrap Yard Complex before setting their sights on the Japan All-Star Series June 20-23, 2018 where they will face the Japan National Team in a three-game series.Led by Head Coach Laura Berg (Corvallis, Ore./Head Coach at Oregon State), Patty Gasso (Torrance, Calif./Head Coach at Oklahoma), Melyssa Lombardi (Glendale, Ariz./Associate Head Coach at Oklahoma) and two-time Olympian Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif./Director of Operations at CSUN) will serve as Assistant Coaches for the 2018 USA Softball Japan All-Star Series roster.

FloSoftball Partners With AthPro360 To Launch FloShowdown ID Camps

Gary Rohman/USA TODAY Sports

FloSoftball, the innovator in live and original softball content, today announced an exclusive partnership with AthPro360 to launch the FloShowdown ID camps for 14U to 18U and JUCO players. AthPro360 is the world’s most comprehensive and technologically advanced collegiate athletic recruiting and player development platform. 

Rutgers Named Kristen Butler Head Softball Coach

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (June 8, 2018) – Rutgers Athletics has announced the hiring of Kristen Butler as the next head coach of the Scarlet Knights' softball program. A former SEC Player of the Year and record-setting professional softball player in the United States and Japan, Butler has spent the last four seasons turning around the program as head coach at Toledo while earning the 2018 Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year honor.