Oklahoma Fulfills Its Destiny, Wins Fifth National Title
Women’s College World Series Championship Series Game 3: Oklahoma 5, Florida State 1
When Giselle “G” Juarez left Arizona State for Oklahoma, the reasoning was simple: she wanted a ring. After not throwing a single pitch in the Norman Super Regional or having her normal regular-season numbers, there were a lot of question marks about Juarez and the Sooners’ pitching staff as a whole.
Juarez picked the right time to pitch like the two-time All-American she was in 2018 and 2019. The lefty finished off her excellent Women’s College World Series performance by throwing another gem and leaving with a national championship.
“I just wanted to go out there and have my team and just give them every chance to win,” Juarez said. “The beginning of the season wasn't great for me, but I just kept grinding and trusting God's plan for myself. He had this moment planned for me, so I think just—man, it just feels surreal right now.”
Unlike its opposition, Florida State doesn’t have a ton of power. The station-to-station offensive approach relies heavily on getting the ball on the ground. Juarez simply didn’t let that happen on Thursday. Her rise ball, while also mixing speeds at a high level between her changeup and curveball, made it hard on the Seminole lineup. Juarez struck out seven and forced 13 fly outs.
Florida State only had two hits, Kaley Mudge’s leadoff double—which set the Women’s College World Series record with 14 hits during the tournament—and Sydney Sherrill’s RBI double that was truly a pop up that Tiare Jennings lost in the sun.
In her final season, Juarez had to redesign herself after she had bicep surgery in 2020. The biggest change for her wasn’t physical, however. As Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso exclaimed on Wednesday, Juarez let go of a mental blockade in Oklahoma City for her to pitch her best on the biggest stage.
“We were always working with her. It was just—it's so hard,” Gasso said following Wednesday's win. “Any coach could tell you. When it has something to do with what's going on mentally, you can give them cues and you can try to help them, but ultimately it's a player just deciding, I can't take this anymore. This is ruining my career. It's really messing with the fun that I have with the game. And you just gotta wait. You've got to wait sometimes until they get that figured out.
“So with Giselle, it started coming slowly towards the end of the season. And really came alive in the postseason. So she'll tell you, the only thing she's going to remember about her career is this last week.”
Of course, the powerful Oklahoma bats gave Juarez run support. Jocelyn Alo, like she did on Wednesday, started warming up the bats. Her 34th blast of the season put the Sooners up 1-0 in the first.
The big day at the plate came from freshman Jayda Coleman. She hit a solo home run as well in the second inning, but really pushed the game open in the third. Oklahoma loaded the bases with two outs against freshman Emma Wilson, and after a wild pitch, Coleman really had a chance to make an impact. She nearly drove out her second home run, hitting a two-run double off the top of the wall.
Oklahoma throughout the season was the best, most complete team in college softball, and finished it off with its fifth national championship. After falling behind 7-0 in the first game of the championship series, the Sooners outscored Florida State 15-4 the rest of the way.
It might also be the start of another dynasty for Gasso and company. Oklahoma returns almost all of its lineup next season including Alo, Coleman, Jennings and All-American Kinzie Hansen. Juarez and Shannon Saile graduate with most of the innings in the circle, but freshman Nicole May had promising outings and Oklahoma welcomes the nation’s top recruit in Jordyn Bahl.
Oklahoma is the champion of today, and the team to beat next season.