Florida softball snaps Oklahoma’s NCAA Tournament winning streak

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Oklahoma may not have been the top seed in this NCAA Tournament, but it was still considered an overwhelming favorite in the field, vying for its fourth consecutive national championship. That fate was threatened in a 9-3 loss to fourth-seeded Florida in Monday’s semifinal that snapped a 20-game NCAA Tournament winning streak for Oklahoma, the longest active streak in the nation.

The Sooners, who had given up four or more home runs just twice before this season, allowed four homers in the loss, two of which were hit by Gators leadoff batter Skylar Wallace. Oklahoma allowed nine or more runs just once before this season in a 9-4 loss to BYU in April. The Gators ended with 10 hits compared to Oklahoma’s seven.

OU’s starting pitcher Nicole May was pulled after two innings, in which she allowed six hits and four earned runs. Kierston Deal came in as relief for 3 2/3 innings before Karlie Keeney entered for the final out.

The loss marks the Sooners’ seventh this season. Oklahoma is now 0-9 when trailing by four-plus runs at any point in a Women’s College World Series game.

Player of the game

Wallace slammed two home runs and former Sooners player Jocelyn Erickson flexed on her former team by scoring twice, but center fielder Kendra Falby had a second inning for the record books. In the top of the inning, Falby snagged a deep fly ball hit by Rylie Boone on the run.

In the bottom of the inning, Falby sped around the bases for an inside-the-park home run after getting a hit past Boone in left field. It was the first inside-the-park home run at the WCWS since 2014.

What this means for the WCWS bracket

With the win, Florida forces a Tuesday elimination game against the Sooners. The game was pushed back a day after Monday’s three-hour weather delay.

The schedule adjustment puts the Sooners in an unfavorable position, especially if Texas beats Stanford in Monday’s second semifinal game to advance to the championship series. Tuesday was originally scheduled as an off day, but now the Sooners will have to beat Florida and turn around the next day to play Game 1 of the championship series. If Texas loses, both elimination games will be played on Tuesday.

Florida isn’t necessarily off the hook, either. The Gators already were playing their way out of the losers’ bracket, meaning Tuesday’s game will be their third game day in a row. If Florida advances to the finals, that streak would only be extended.

If Oklahoma is looking for a silver lining, perhaps it can channel the energy it found after its last NCAA Tournament loss. In 2022, the Sooners lost 7-3 to UCLA in the WCWS semifinals before coming back to claim a five-inning 15-0 win in the elimination game and going on to win the national title.

(Photo of Kendra Falby: Nathan J. Fish / USA Today)

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