Alabama Wins First WCWS Championship
OKLAHOMA CITY – Alabama won its first national softball title in school history and also the initial title for an SEC team as the Crimson Tide (60-8) defeated Oklahoma 5-4 in the third and deciding game in the WCWS Championship Series Wednesday before 6,804 people at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
The game, which was originally scheduled to start at 7:06 p.m., was delayed because of rain and didn’t start until 9:55 p.m. (CT). It also was delayed 12 minutes before the start of the fourth inning.
Alabama ace, Jackie Traina (42-3) allowed five hits, four runs (four earned) while walking three and striking out six. For Oklahoma, this was only the second time the team lost consecutive games this season. The Sooners (54-10) had won 12 games in a row including beating Alabama 4-1 Monday in the first game of the championship series before losing twice in trying to win the school’s second NCAA softball title since 2000.
OU ace left-hander Keilani Ricketts, the USA Softball Player of the Year, allowed seven hits, five hits (three earned) while walking two and striking out seven. The seven strikeouts gave her 64, the third best in WCWS history.
Ricketts had put OU ahead 1-0 in the second inning with a homer just inside the right field foul pole before the Sooners expanded the lead on first baseman’s Laura Chamberlain’s two-run smash to left field. It was her 19th homer of the season.
Ricketts, who threw 10 balls in the first three innings, had trouble in the fourth inning when she threw 15 balls and hurled four wild pitches. Kaila Hunt opened the fourth with a single and three wild pitches later by Ricketts, she scored. Patty Gasso, the OU head coach, complained to the umpires that her star pitcher couldn’t grip the ball and the game was delayed 12 minutes—despite the protests of Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy.
When play resumed, Amanda Locke hit a two-out RBI single and Courtney Conley followed with an RBI double to tie the game. A throwing error by shortstop Jessica Vest allowed Jazlyn Lunceford to reach base and Conley to score, putting Alabama ahead 4-3. Alabama added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth as Jennifer Fenton had a bunt single leading off and scored on an RBI single by winning pitcher Jackie Traina.
The insurance run the Crimson Tide scored earlier proved to be the difference as Chamberlain homered over the center field fence to cut the game to its final margin and end the OU season, with Traina striking out Ricketts for the final out.
After the game the announcement of the All-Tournament Team for the 2012 Women’s College World Series included MOP Jackie Traina, Alabama; Kayla Braud, Alabama; Jennifer Fenton, Alabama; Amanda Locke, Alabama; Lauren Chamberlain, Oklahoma; Destinee Martinez, Oklahoma; Keilani Ricketts, Oklahoma; Jessica Shults, Oklahoma; Brianna Turang, Oklahoma; Amber Freeman, Arizona State; Samantha Pappas, Oregon; Alexa Peterson, Oregon.
The total WCWS attendance for this years WCWS of 75,960 breaks the previous mark of 67,631. Both numbers were set in years with nine total sessions. This is a new record average attendance of 8,440 per session, surpassing the old record of 7,515. Both old records were set last year. This year’s WCWS featured five of the top-10 single-session attendance figures in event history, including the top three (9,209 Friday night, 9,310 Saturday night, 9,167 Sunday afternoon).