NORMAN – Who else was it going to be?
Oklahoma State came to play in the third game the Bedlam series on Saturday afternoon – until Jocelyn Alo stepped into the batter’s box.
Cowgirl pitcher Kelly Maxwell had kept the No. 1-ranked Sooners on their toes all afternoon, but her hard work came undone in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Maxwell hit both Jana Johns and Taylon Snowand then issued a walk to Jayda Coleman to load the bases for college softball’s Home Run Queen.
On the third pitch she saw, Alo rocketed a ball to the front row in right-center field, giving OU a 5-2 lead from which it would never look back.
“Everything about this season has been so unbelievably storybook for (Alo),” Gasso said after the game. “The last at-bat regular season, at home, senior day, what else could she do?
“Hawaii, here we are. Let’s hit a home run in front of tens-of-thousands of family members out there. So just fitting. ”
The Sooners (48-1) closed out the 5-3 win over the No. 7-ranked Cowgirls (38-12), sweeping OSU at Marita Hynes Field.
Alo’s grand slam was just one of the major contributions the Sooners got from their super seniors on Saturday, who were being honored for their last regular season game in Norman.
Johns, a defensive stalwart all weekend at third base, wore a pair of Maxwell’s pitches to give the Sooners some free baserunners.
Pitcher Hope Trautwein entered the game in relief of Nicole May in the fifth inning ensure the Cowgirls would not add any insurance runs. With runners already on first and third and two outs, Trautwein forced a ground out to get OU out of the jam in the fifth.
Catcher Lynnsie Elam guided both May and Trautwein through the contest behind the dish, and Snow turned the lineup over with a hit by pitch of her own to help load up the bases for Alo in the bottom of the fifth.
Though the offense took some time to get going, Gasso never lost faith that her team would stage the comeback.
“Senior Day, at home, there was no way they would allow the seniors to walk away with a loss,” Gasso said. “That’s how I felt.
“… What I always have to remember is just to be quiet and trust what they’re doing, because they always do. There’s no reason to doubt. ”
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Alo had struck out twice before launching her grand slam, but she said she was able to keep her previous at-bats in the back of her mind and step into the batter’s box with the right mentality in the fifth inning.
“I know my freshman year and years previously I probably would have let it (impact me),” Alo said after the game. “This year, I’m really just locked into what I’m doing and have grown up a lot.”
With pride on the line, the Cowgirls did mount one last threat in the top of the sixth inning.
Trautwein walked in a run after she issued four walks in the inning. May returned bail her teammate out, recording a strikeout and ground out to end the inning.
In total, May pitched 6 1/3 innings, striking out one OSU batter while allowing two runs on four hits and four walks. Trautwein was credited with 2/3 of an inning, striking out one batter while allowing one run on four walks.
“Coming back in, a switch was flipped,” May said after the game. “I kind of like went out to warm up again and kind of approached it with a different mindset. It was moreso wanting to have Hope’s back like she had my back. ”
Alo’s grand slam erased Oklahoma State’s first lead of the series, which came courtesy of Haley Busby’s two-run bomb in the top of the second inning.
The lead remained untouched until the bottom of the fourth inning, until OSU’s defense again made life more difficult on Maxwell.
Tiare Jennings appeared to lead the inning off with a routine pop out, but as OSU second baseman Brianna Evans tracked the ball into shallow left field, she misplayed the ball and dropped it, allowing Jennings to arrive safely at second base.
All weekend long, the Sooners have capitalized on critical defensive errors, and Saturday was no exception.
Grace Lyons followed up Jennings with an RBI single, cutting the Oklahoma State lead to 2-1 on OU’s first hit of the game.
Alo finished 1-for-3 with the four RBIs, and Elam and Lyons were the only other Sooners to record a hit on Saturday.
Now, the Sooners will turn their attention to next weekend’s Big 12 Tournament, which will take place at the Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
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