OKLAHOMA CITY -- After a nearly three-hour rain delay prior to first pitch and another delay during the bottom of the fourth inning, Alabama earned the first NCAA Softball Championship in program history, defeating Oklahoma 5-4 in the third and deciding game of the NCAA Championship Series.

Alabama sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

Both pitchers came out dealing in the first inning, retiring all three batters they faced. OU’s Keilani Ricketts changed that on the second pitch she faced, ripping her team’s 100th home run of the season just fair down the right-field line.

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In the third inning. Javen Henson singled up the middle to lead the inning, but was erased on a Brianna Turang fielders choice. Turang came around to score on a Lauren Chamberlain home run, her 29th of the season, giving the Sooners a 3-0 lead.

Rain became a factor again in the fourth inning. It started raining in the top half of the frame, but play was not stopped until Alabama had pushed across its first run of the game.

Kaila Hunt led off the inning with a single and advanced on a pair of wild pitches during a walk issued to Kendall Dawson. A third wild pitch in the inning, during the at-bat of Amanda Locke, scored Hunt to make the score 3-1 and prompted a short weather delay.

After the teams resumed the field, Alabama put its next four batters on base. Locke would single and take second base on the throw home, scoring Dawson to make the score 3-2. A Courtney Conley double straight up the middle plated Locke to tie the game. The Crimson Tide would take the lead when Jazlyn Lunceford sprinted out a ground ball that turned into an OU fielding error, allowing Conley to score from second base on the play. Alabama took a 4-3 lead to the top of the fifth inning.

The Crimson Tide’s offensive push continued in the bottom of the fifth inning. Jennifer Fenton started the rally with an infield single and went to second base on a wild pitch. She advanced to third on a groundout by Hunt and scored on a Jackie Traina single through the right side to make the score 5-3.

The Sooners would not go quietly in the seventh inning. With two outs, Lauren Chamberlain cranked her second home run of the game and 30th home run of the season well into the right-field bleachers to cut Alabama’s lead to one run at 5-4. That prompted a batter between the two pitchers, as Traina pitched to Ricketts with two outs. Traina won the battle, earning a strikeout, her sixth of the game, to seal the NCAA title.

Traina (42-3) finished with six strikeouts and three walks, allowing four earned runs on five hits. All four OU runs scored on home runs. Offensively for the Crimson Tide, Locke was the only player with multiple hits, finishing 2-for03 with a run scored and an RBI.

NOTES:
• With her first strikeout of the game, Alabama sophomore Jackie Traina set a Alabama single-season record for strikeouts with 356. She finished the game with six and 361 on the season.

• In the eight-year history of the best-of-three championship Series at the WCWS, this is just the third time teams have had to play a third and deciding game. In all three of those instances, the Game 2 winner has gone on to hoist the NCAA championship trophy. (Michigan d. UCLA, 2005; Arizona d. Tennessee, 2007; Alabama d. Oklahoma, 2012)

• Game 3 of the Championship Series ended just after 12:30 a.m. Central Time. This marks the first time in history that the WCWS has played on consecutive Thursdays.

• This is Alabama’s third NCAA Championship in 2012. Women’s gymnastics and women’s golf have also won NCAA titles in the past two months. The Crimson Tide are also the reigning BCS football champions.

• This year’s total WCWS attendance number of 75,960 breaks the previous mark of 67,631. Both numbers were set in years with nine total sessions. That is a record average attendance of 8,440 per session, surpassing the old record of 7,515. Both old records were set last year (2011).

• 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)

• The All-Tournament Team for the 2012 Women’s College World Series included: Amber Freeman, Arizona State; Samantha Pappas, Oregon; Alexa Peterson, Oregon; Lauren Chamberlain, Oklahoma; Destinee Martinez, Oklahoma; Keilani Ricketts, Oklahoma; Jessica Shults, Oklahoma; Brianna Turang, Oklahoma; Kayla Braud, Alabama; Jennifer Fenton, Alabama; Amanda Locke, Alabama; MOP Jackie Traina, Alabama