OU’s bats have bashed opponents all season.
But Thursday, as the top-seeded Sooners opened the Women’s College World Series against unseeded James Madison at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium, a real honest-to-goodness pitcher’s duel broke out.
JMU’s Odicci Alexander kept the Sooners off balance for seven innings, except for one quick burst in the third.
Shannon Saile did the same for Oklahoma, until James Madison’s Kate Gordon drove Saile’s full-count delivery over the left-center field wall with one out in the eighth, lifting the Dukes to a stunning 4-3 upset win in the WCWS opener.
The Sooners (50-3) now face an elimination game at 11 a.m. Saturday against the loser of Thursday’s second game between Oklahoma State and Georgia.
KG for the lead! 🔥#WCWS x @JMUSoftballpic.twitter.com/oGJ7i0vJNP
JMU JUST TOOK THE EXTRA-INNINGS LEAD OVER NO. 1 OKLAHOMA WITH THIS HOMER 👀 #WCWSpic.twitter.com/ye31GbUL6r
The Cowgirls and the Bulldogs were the only teams to beat the Soonersthis season before James Madison’s stunner.
After both teams scored a trio of runs in the third — on a pair of three-run home runs — Alexander and Saile settled into a groove with neither team threatening much.
Gordon hadn’t had any success in her first three at-bats off Saile, fouling out the first time before striking out her next two trips to the plate.
Gordon’s shot was just the third hit of the game for the Dukes (40-2) and the first since the third inning.
Though Alexander had been mostly dominant, the Sooners’ eighth set up as best it could, with the top of the order coming to the plate.
Pitcher Odicci Alexander led James Madison to the Women's College World Series for the first time in program history. (Photo: Colin E. Braley, AP)
Tiare Jennings lined the ball off Alexander’s shin, but it bounced directly to second baseman Madison Naujokas, who threw Jennings out.
The Dukes then pitched around national home run leader Jocelyn Alo before Kinzie Hansen flied out to left-center.
Alexander then gort Kinzie Hansen to fly out to virtually the same spot to end the game.
Saile dropped to 17-1 on the season while Alexander improved to 17-1.
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The Dukes struck first, on Sara Jubas’ three-run homer to right center in the third off Saile.
James Madison started the inning with Lauren Bernett’s infield single to the right side on a bang-bang play before Michelle Sullivan reached on third baseman Jana Johns’ error, setting up Jubas’ blast two batters later.
OU answered in the bottom of the inning, with freshman Jennings driving a three-run home run to straightaway center on the first pitch of the at-bat after Johns and Taylon Snow started the inning with back-to-back singles.
The home run was Jennings’ 26th of the season.
But the Sooners didn’t threaten much outside of that.
They didn’t have another runner reach second until Coleman’s two-out stolen base in the sixth.
The fifth inning ended in controversial fashion after Alo grounded into an apparent fielder’s choice. Though Alo was called safe — and clearly beat the throw — she was called out after umpires gathered and determined Jennings interfered with the throw to first.
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