If Monday night was just Game 1 of the best-of-three Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, then the Oklahoma Sooners and Florida Gators softball players will have a tough time topping the first game! In a record-setting 17-inning epic, the OU women prevailed over Florida by a score of 7-5. The opening game of the WCWS lasted 5 hours and 28 minutes and was the longest softball game played in the 35-year history of this annual event.
The game was well underway when I found it on ESPN last night. I knew that SEC champion Florida came into the game ranked #1 as the Gators have two pitchers who are as stingy at giving up runs as Jack Benny was notoriously tight with his money. Both primary Florida pitchers sported earned run averages well under one run per game. The Gators had given-up less than 10 home runs in 66 games thus far this season – until last night. Defending champion Oklahoma patiently withstood an amazing 26-strikeout performance by Florida’s pitching and eventually capitalized by blasting three pitches out of OGE Energy Field, accounting for six runs. The final 3-run blast in the 17th inning ultimately won the game for Oklahoma.
Florida, though, never gave-up hope. Down by a run with two outs and two strikes on the batter in the bottom of the 7th (and, usually, final) inning, Florida rallied to tie the game at 2-2. After a few scoreless extra innings, OU belted their second home run of the game in the top of the 12th to take a two-run lead. Not to be outdone, the Gators rallied again to knot the game with two runs in the bottom of the 12th. Just like the 7th inning, the game-tying runs dramatically came with two outs and two strikes in the count on Florida’s batter.
It was a spellbinding game. Last night’s 17-inning marathon equated to nearly 2 1/2 traditional softball games! Incredibly, each of the four pitchers used (two by each team) threw over one hundred pitches on Monday night. Somebody pass the Sportscreme, please! Unlike baseball pitchers who utilize a different throwing motion and require more arm rest, women’s softball pitchers, by comparison, are like bionic machines. It is quite likely that you will see two of these four pitching warriors take the mound again on Tuesday night – less than 18 hours after Monday’s monumental Game 1.
Statistically speaking, ESPN reported that the Game 1’s winning team has ultimately won this best two-of-three championship round 75% of the time. Regardless of who wins this year’s softball national championship, these two teams delivered an instant classic for their opening game!