It came as no surprise the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners marched their way into the 2013 Women's College World Series with little resistance.
After rolling through their regular-season schedule with just four losses and a wake of destruction in their path, the Sooners trounced Michigan, Texas and Washington to secure a berth in the championship series against the No. 7 Tennessee Lady Vols.
Much of what propelled the Sooners through the regular season has held true in the WCWS, as big bats and strong pitching have seemingly come easy for Oklahoma, which could claim the 2013 NCAA title on Tuesday night after taking Game 1 from Tennessee in their best-of-three championship series, 5-3, in 12 innings on Monday night.
Tennessee, however, didn't exactly rely on luck to notch its trip to the finals either.
After dismantling No. 2 Florida, 9-2, last Thursday, the Lady Vols relied on tremendous pitching and defense to get past Washington and Texas in subsequent rounds, allowing just one run in that span. Tennessee's pitching and defense were on display again Monday night as the Lady Vols held Oklahoma scoreless through the first 10 innings of their championship series opener.
Victory wouldn’t be in the cards for the Vols, however, as they watched a 3-0 lead disintegrate in the bottom of the 11th inning. Tennessee, however, has shown that it has what it will take to steal one back from Oklahoma on Tuesday night and force a Game 3 for the national title on Wednesday night.
Let’s take a closer look at the series and break down what to watch for in Game 2 of the Women’s College World Series championship series.
Where: ASA Hall Of Fame Stadium; Oklahoma City, Okla.
When: Tuesday, June 4, 8 p.m. ET
Series: 1-0, Oklahoma
Game 2 Preview
Pitching was the name of the game in the opener between Oklahoma and Tennessee, and Game 2 should be no different.
Ellen Renfroe and Keilani Ricketts went the distance in Game 1, with each hurling 10 scoreless innings before things got a little wild at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. Although both teams eventually combined for eight earned runs and 15 hits, both starting pitchers pitched tremendous games that could have been decided much earlier with one swing of the bat.
Tennessee appeared to have the inside track on a Game 1 victory after breaking a scoreless tie with three runs in the top of the 11th, but Oklahoma—on the backs of Destinee Martinez and Callie Parson—answered with three unlikely runs in the bottom of the inning to tie it.
Will Oklahoma end its dominant 2013 season with a win on Tuesday?
After the Vols were unable to strike in the top of the 12th, the Sooners took advantage with a two-run walk-off shot off the bat of Lauren Chamberlain, who terrorized opposing pitchers all season long. It was a tough loss for Tennessee, but there’s no reason to believe the Vols can’t battle back with a victory in Game 2.
While pitching was the biggest story on Monday night, NCAA Div. 1 Player of the Year candidate Raven Chavanne’s disappearing act was a bit of a shocker. After hitting .455 this season, the third baseman went 0-for-6 with four strikeouts in the loss.
If Tennessee is going to claw back with a win in Game 2, Chavanne and second baseman Lauren Gibson have to get hot and stay hot. The pair combined for just one hit in Game 1, as they were completely stifled by Ricketts’ dominating performance.
If the Vols’ best hitters don’t get it going Tuesday night, Oklahoma will walk away with a two-game championship series win and a national title.