2021 WCWS Recap | Division I
2021 WCWS Recap | Division I
As the Division I season comes to a close, let's take a look back with a recap of the 2021 WCWS.
Juarez Dominates as Oklahoma Wins Third WCWS in Five Years
With a 5-1 win over Florida State in Wednesday afternoon’s winner-take-all game three of the 2021 NCAA Softball Women’s College World Series, the Oklahoma Sooners captured their third Nationa Championship in five years. The national title is OU coach Patty Gasso’s fifth while in Norman.
The series came down to a best-of-three showdown on Thursday between the No. 1 seed Sooners and the No. 10 seed Seminoles after both teams made the run through the loser’s bracket thanks to losses on day one of the WCWS.
OU pitcher Giselle “G” Juarez went back-to-back in games two and three, keeping the Seminoles bats at bay by allowing just three runs, sitting down a stretch of 12-in-a-row in game three to seal the deal for the Sooners. At the plate, the Sooners used the long ball all weekend, blasting 15 home runs during their run through the bracket to set a new WCWS record, along with bringing their season total to 159 — also an NCAA D-I season record.
How We Got There
Thursday and Friday didn’t play out as many expected at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium during the opening games of the 2021 NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
After James Madison senior hurler Odicci Alexander outlasted the No. 1 seed Oklahoma Sooners to come away with a 4-3, 8-inning win, No. 3 seed Alabama, No. 10 seed Oklahoma State and No. 2 seed UCLA all went into Friday with wins.
On Friday, the storylines continued as Alexander and JMU pulled off another upset as the unseeded Dukes snuck past OSU, 2-1, while UCLA was shut down with a perfect-game performance by Crimson Tide ace Montana Fouts.
Elimination Weekend — Kind Of
The weekend saw an offensive explosion from the Sooners in a pair of elimination games on Saturday, starting with a run-rule, 8-0 victory over Georgia. After Florida State eliminated Arizona with a 4-3 win, OU erupted for double-digits eliminating UCLA, 10-3.
The Seminoles opened Sunday’s rain-delayed elimination day with a 4-2 win over Oklahoma State and, after OU ended JMU’s Cinderella run with a 6-3 win, forced a winner-takes-all rematch on Monday — delayed due to rain and the late starts. The Seminoles rocked Lexi Kilfoyl and the Tide to force another drop-dead game for Monday.
JMU and OU met for the third time on Monday, and this time, the Sooner offense was too much for Alexander, who had thrown every pitch for the Dukes up to the point she left the game on Monday in the fifth inning. The Sooners put up another seven runs to advance to the finals with a 7-1.
FSU was faced with dealing with Alabama’s Fouts, coming off her perfecto, but the Seminoles were unfazed sending the Tide ace to the dugout after plating seven runs, six earned, on six hits. The Noles held off a late Alabama surge to advance with an 8-5 win.
Each school followed a similar path to the finals, having lost their openers on Thursday at the WCWS and then proceeded to put together runs of four straight wins in elimination games. The Sooners spent most of the season as the No. 1 team in the country, having only lost twice during the regular season. National Player of the Year Jocelyn Alo and the Freshman of the Year Tiare Jennings highlight their powerhouse offense, and they are the top home run hitting and slugging team in the country, putting up double-digit runs 31 times this season.
For Florida State, the story has been dramatically different as the Seminoles struggled some during the regular season, going 39-10-1, but the team came alive in the postseason. Not known for the long ball, they are known for scrappy play, stringing together base hits and capitalizing on mistakes from the opposition.
Game One (FSU 8 - OU 5)
In game one, the Seminoles jumped out to a seven-run lead after plating two runs in the third on a two- run home run by Kalei Harding, followed by a five-run fourth inning that featured a two-run double by Harding. The Sooners answered with back-to-back home runs by Kinzie Hansen and Nicole Mendez. Thanks to some Seminole miscues, the Sooners scored twice in the sixth inning, but weren’t able to close the gap further, and after Josie Muffley scored on a controversial obstruction call in the top of the seventh, FSU came away with the 8-5 win to take a 1-0 game lead into Wednesday’s game two.
Game Two (OU 6 - FSU 2)
Florida State jumped out early in game two after Elizabeth Mason’s two-run home run gave the Seminoles an early advantage after just an inning of play. But Sooners pitcher Giselle “G” Juarez went into lockdown mode from there, allowing just two hits and no runs the rest of the way.
After managing just a single run on a Jana Johns home run in the third inning, the Sooners offense exploded like a sleeping lion in the sixth inning. Tiare Jennings opened the frame by reaching on an error, and Alo launched an opposite field blast over the right-center fence to put OU up 3-2. Alo’s dinger was the 159th of the season for the Sooners, good for a new D-I softball season record.
After a flurry of singles, the Sooners finished the inning with a 5-2 lead and all the momentum. Alo crossed the plate for an insurance run in the seventh on a Nicole Mendes sacrifice fly to round out the scoring, sending the game to a final, deciding game three.
Game Three — For it All (OU 5 - FSU 1)
A first inning home run by Alo, and a second inning home run by Jayda Coleman put OU out to a quick 2- 0 lead. But the Seminoles responded in the top of the third, getting on the board when a sky-high, two-out infield fly off the bat of Sydney Sherrill was lost in the sun by Sooners second baseman Tiare Jennings, scoring Kalei Harding from second base.
FSU coach Lonni Alameda brought in Emma Wilson in relief of freshman starter Danielle Watson in the top of the third. Wilson got Alo to ground out, but gave up a pair of walks to load the bases. After a wild pitch scored Jennings from third, Coleman blasted a Wilson pitch off the right-field wall scoring MacKinzie Donihoo and Kinzie Hansen. Kathryn Sandercock came in for Wilson and got Grace Lyons to ground to third and end the Sooners inning.
After the third inning fluke double, Juarez sat down 12 in a row before allowing a two-out walk to Anna Shelnutt in the seventh inning. But she closed out the Noles by snagging a bloop pop-up off the bat of Devyn Flaherty to close out the series and the season.
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