Texas beats Oklahoma State to advance to Softball World Series Championship series

Texas faces Oklahoma in championship series that begins Wednesday

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JUNE 6: Pitchers Estelle Czech #22 and Hailey Dolcini #27 and catcher Mary Iakopo #33 of the Texas Longhorns celebrate a win over the Oklahoma State Cowboys with their teammates in their winner-take-all game during the NCAA Women's College World Series at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex on June 6, 2022 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Texas won 5-0 to force an elimination game. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) (Brian Bahr, 2022 Brian Bahr)

OKLAHOMA CITY – On Monday night in Women’s College World Series semifinal action at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium, No. 16/18 Texas softball (47-20-1) swept two games from No. 6/7 Oklahoma State (48-14) to become the first unseeded team and the first Texas squad to reach the WCWS Championship Series.

The Red River Rivalry will be renewed on Wed., June 8, at 7:30 p.m. CT (ESPN) as the Longhorns will begin a best-of-three series against No. 1 Oklahoma for the national championship.

RELATED: Alo’s 2 HRs lead Oklahoma past UCLA, into WCWS finals

Notes

  • By sweeping Monday’s two games, Texas became the first unseeded team to ever reach the WCWS Championship Series. Prior to this year, only James Madison in 2021 and this year’s Longhorns had advanced as far as the semifinal round while unseeded.
  • Texas is 6-0 in elimination games in this year’s NCAA Tournament (one win over No. 11 Washington, two wins at No. 4 Arkansas, one win over Arizona, two wins over No. 6/7 Oklahoma State).
  • Texas has now hit seven combined HR’s at the 2022 WCWS. That’s as many as the Longhorns managed to hit combining its five previous trips to the WCWS.
  • Sophomore outfielder Courtney Day has now hit a HR in three straight WCWS games and is tied with Oklahoma’s Jocelyn Alo and Tiare Jennings for the event lead.
  • Day has taken over the Texas all-time career WCWS marks for total HR’s (three) and RBIs (seven).
  • Texas handed Oklahoma State its first two 2022 postseason losses and ended its 10-game winning streak.
  • With three double plays on Monday, Texas has now tied the 2021 Longhorns for the program single-season mark with 26.
  • With its rally in game two, Texas now has 18 come-from-behind wins when trailing at any point in a game in 2022.
  • Oklahoma State’s blown five-run lead was its largest of the season. Its previous high was two runs against Washington and Oklahoma.

Major Players

Game 1:

Sophomore designated player Courtney Day (1-for-2, run, HR, three RBIs); senior catcher Mary Iakopo (1-for-2, double, RBI); senior second baseman Janae Jefferson (1-for-3, double)

Game 2:

Day (1-for-3, HR, three RBIs); sophomore center fielder Bella Dayton (2-for-4, two runs); freshman third baseman Mia Scott (1-for-3, run); sophomore pinch hitter Jordyn Whitaker (walk, run); Iakopo (two walks, run)

In the Circle

Game 1:

Sophomore Estelle Czech (13-1) picked up the win after scattering four hits, walking three and striking out three over a complete-game shutout.

Game 2:

Senior Hailey Dolcini (24-11) earned the victory out of the bullpen, permitting two earned runs on one hit with three strikeouts over 5.0 innings of work. Czech started the contest and allowed two earned runs on three hits in 2.0 frames.

The Details

Game 1:

Oklahoma State threatened in the top of the first as left fielder Chelsea Alexander started off the game with a single up the middle. Following a sac bunt and a K, designated player Miranda Elish walked to put two Cowgirls aboard. Facing a huge early spot, Czech got third baseman Sydney Pennington to hit a line drive right back to the circle. The hurler nearly made the catch, but knocked it down and tossed to first to end the threat.

Iakopo got the Longhorns going with one down in the bottom of the second as the senior catcher launched a double to the wall in left center. Sophomore first baseman JJ Smith continued her hot WCWS hitting by blooping a single to center as Texas boasted runners at the corners. After an Alyssa Popelka stolen base, Day stepped into the box and got the Burnt Orange & White on the board by blasting a three-run HR to left center to stake the Horns to a 3-0 lead.

After stranding single base runners in the third and fourth innings, Oklahoma State got a two-out triple from Alexander to threaten again in the top of the fifth. Again, Czech worked out of the jam as the sophomore lefty induced a bouncer to third to maintain Texas’ three-run advantage.

The Longhorns added some valuable insurance in the bottom of the sixth. With Scott in scoring position on a leadoff bunt single and a stolen base, Dayton dropped a sac bunt up the third-base line. OSU’s Sydney Pennington raced in to grab the ball but her throw to first went wide for an error as Scott scored easily from second. The lead eventually expanded to 5-0 as Iakopo plated Dayton on a long sacrifice fly to right.

Needing a big rally, a Brianna Evans pinch hit single and a hit batter quickly put two aboard for Oklahoma State with one out in the top of the seventh. Shortstop Kiley Naomi came to the plate and hit a chopper to third. Scott fielded it cleanly, stepped on third and fired a strike across the infield to finish a game-ending double play.

Game 2:

After Texas went down in order in the top of the first, OSU’s Alexander led off the Cowgirl half with a single to shallow right center. On the second pitch of the next at-bat, Alexander took off for second and eventually ended up at third on a steal and a throwing error. Center fielder Chyenne Factor came to the dish and hit a chopper to short. Washington fielded it and eventually tossed home, but Iakopo’s tag at the plate was just late as Oklahoma State nabbed a 1-0 lead.

The Cowgirls used the long ball to add to their advantage in the bottom of the second as shortstop Kiley Naomi hit a two-run shot to left to make it 3-0.

With two outs in the bottom of the third, OSU’s Karli Petty boosted the gap to 5-0 by driving a two-run shot to right.

Dayton granted the Longhorns some much-needed life against OSU ace Kelly Maxwell by starting the top of the fourth with a sharp single off the pitcher before moving to second on a throwing error. Following an Iakopo walk, Day launched her second HR of the day (and third of the WCWS) off the top of the left-field wall and out to cut the Texas deficit to 5-3.

Starting the top of the fifth, Whitaker drew a leadoff walk to turn the lineup over for the Longhorns. After a Texas K, Scott made it two aboard with one out by chopping a single up the middle. That’s when chaos began at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium as Dayton singled through the right side of the infield. OSU right fielder Karli Petty slightly overran the ball for an error as Whitaker raced across to score. Continuing the play, a throw to second trying to catch Scott too far off the bag went past the bag and rolled all the way to the wall in left center as Scott scored and Dayton raced all the way around the base paths to give Texas a shocking, 6-5 lead.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JUNE 6: Bella Dayton #6 of the Texas Longhorns scores the winning run off her single and a couple errors against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the fifth inning during the NCAA Women's College World Series at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex on June 6, 2022 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Texas won 6-5 to advance to the championship finals. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) (2022 Brian Bahr)

With Oklahoma State suddenly trailing for the first time in the contest, Alexander was struck by a Dolcini pitch to begin the Cowgirl fifth. Nothing came of the runner, however, as a batter out of the box call and a 4-6-3 double play put another valuable zero on the scoreboard.

From there, it was left to Dolcini to finish things off, and the senior righty did just that by retiring all six OSU batters over the final two innings to send Texas to the WCWS Championship Series.