The College Softball World Series field significantly downsized on Day 3 of the tournament.
For two teams, the emotional whirlwind that is the tournament lived to see another day as they punched their tickets to the semifinals. For four more teams, it was the bittersweet end to a season that left them just short of the final four.
With four games involving six teams there was plenty of action to take in from Oklahoma City.
Here's a look at the results from an intense day of tournament play.
|7||Baylor 7, Florida State 2|
|8||Oklahoma 3, La-Lafayette 1|
|9||Baylor 8, Kentucky 7|
|10||Oregon 4, Oklahoma 2|
Day 3 Recap
Baylor 7, Florida State 2
Fresh off the heels of a shutout loss to the Florida Gators on Day 1 of the tournament, Baylor desperately needed its bats to come alive.
They didn't disappoint.
Jordan Strickland saw to it that the Bears would have no shortage of runs. The junior shortstop went yard, not just once, but twice. Her four RBI alone were enough to top the two runs that the Seminoles were able to put up as they saw their season come to an end.
Strickland's performance was one for the history books, per Baylor Softball:
Jordan Strickland becomes 3rd player in BU history to go yard TWICE in a postseason game & the first in the WCWS- a two-run shot #SicEM— Baylor Softball (@BaylorSoftball) May 31, 2014
Much of that offensive inefficiency could be chalked up to strong performances from Baylor's Heather Stearns and Whitney Canion on the hill. The two combined to allow just five hits, and Stearns collected seven strikeouts in just 4.2 innings.
Oklahoma 3, La.-Lafayette 1
The Oklahoma Sooners started the day with their backs against the wall on Saturday. With both the Sooners and the Ragin' Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette facing elimination, it was Oklahoma that got off to a good start in the first inning.
The Sooners took advantage of their first trip to the plate with a Brittany Williams double that drove in Lauren Chamberlain and Shelby Pendley to build a 2-0 lead.
As it turns out, that's all they would need.
Pitcher Kelsey Stevens was lights out on the mound for the Sooners. The sophomore went all seven innings with seven strikeouts and just one run allowed as the Lafayette comeback was thwarted in the final inning of the game at just one run.
Stevens and Williams weren't the only notables for Oklahoma, though. Callie Parsons also added to the lead with an impressive inside-the-park home run, her first of the season. Per Matthew Harris of The Advocate, Parsons was just trying to make sure the Sooners retained momentum:
Callie Parsons on her inside the park HR: "I knew I had to do something to help us gain back momentum. I was just trying to get my hacks."— Matthew Harris (@MHarrisAdvocate) May 31, 2014
The Sooners would need all the momentum they could get when they next faced the No. 1 seed Oregon Ducks.
Baylor 8, Kentucky 7
As fast as Baylor's bats heated up in its win over Florida State, it appeared they were going to cool in the elimination game against Kentucky. After two scoreless innings to start the game, it was the Wildcats who got the scoring started with home runs from Emily Gaines and Ginny Carroll to give them an early 3-0 lead.
Things looked even more bleak for the Bears when the 'Cats added two runs to the lead in the fourth on runs from Emily Jolly and Krystal Smith that scored on an error and fielder's choice, respectively. When Kentucky extended the lead to 7-0 in the sixth, it appeared it was all but over.
But Baylor wasn't ready to give up. The Bears still had some offensive firepower up their sleeves, and Kentucky's Kelsey Nunley was wearing down on the mound.
With Nunley's pitch count soaring, the Bears chipped away at the Wildcats' lead with a three-run sixth inning. The next inning they would do the unthinkable and tie the game with a four-run inning highlighted by a two-run double from Robin Landrith.
Heading into the extra eighth inning, the Bears were able to complete the comeback with Kaitlyn Thurmann scoring the game-winning run on an error.
The incredible comeback win even garnered attention from Texas Supreme Court justice Don Willett:
Baylor coach Glenn Moore expressed his belief in his players after the game, via Mike McCoy:
From being counted out five innings into the game to national semifinalists, Baylor has earned the right to redeem itself for its 11-0 loss to Florida earlier in the tournament.
The Bears will meet the Gators on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET (ESPN).
Oregon 4, Oklahoma 2
Capping off the evening was an intriguing matchup of the nation's top-ranked team in the Oregon Ducks and the Oklahoma Sooners.
The Ducks drew first blood against the Sooners as Janie Takeda drove in one on her 14th double of the season, while Kailee Cuico drove in two runs with her seventh double.
However, Oklahoma didn't make it to the quarterfinals without showing some serious heart—and the Sooners weren't about to stop that trend against the Ducks. Jessica Vest drove in Georgia Casey to cut the lead to two before Shelby Pendley hit a solo homer in the bottom of the fifth to make it 3-2.
A scoreless sixth for both teams set up an intense final frame with a trip to the semifinals on the line.
Takeda struck once again in the top of the seventh. The star outfielder drove in another run with a single and gave Ducks pitcher Karissa Hovinga another run to play with as the Sooners came to the plate for the bottom half of the seventh.
Hovinga would get the first two outs of the seventh before starting pitcher Cheridan Hawkins came back out to get the final out. With runners on the corners for the Sooners, the sophomore pitcher forced a groundout to book her school's ticket to the semifinals.
Oregon will meet Alabama on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN).