Oklahoma gets bragging rights, run-rules Texas at WCWS
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The second Saturday of every October, Oklahoma and Texas meet on the football field during the Texas State Fair in Dallas. It is one of the biggest rivalry games in college sports.
If you attend the University of Oklahoma, part of the educational process is to learn to dislike the Longhorns. If you wear the burnt orange of Texas, part of your requirements are a loathing of the crimson and cream of the Sooners.
Think Ohio State-Michigan, Yankees-Red Sox. Loyalty starts and finishes with the state line.
The Red River Rivalry starts with football, but the antipathy runs across all sports.
On Saturday afternoon, the Longhorns and Sooners met on the softball diamond for the fourth time in 2013. Texas beat OU in Austin on April 20. It was one of just four losses in 56 games for OU entering the 2013 Women’s College World Series.
“It doesn’t matter what it is, when you are playing Texas you bring your ‘A’ game,” said one fan who wished to remain nameless. “It is one of those rivalries where folks just don’t like each other. But, at the same time, I think there is a respect that both programs know, no matter what the sport, that they are trying to win championships.”
With rivalry also comes familiarity.
“That was fun, we enjoyed it very much,” said Sooners head coach Patty Gasso after her squad run-ruled Texas 10-2. “Not because of the outcome or the score, but because we respect Texas like nobody else. We knew this was going to be a major battle; we knew it right from the start.
“There are no surprises. You have to stay disciplined. This is the fourth time we’ve played Texas and these seniors have seen them for four years. We know things that can get [Texas pitcher Blaire Luna] and it’s about staying patient and disciplined at the plate.”
The Sooners, now 54-4, got to Luna early, chasing the Texas right-hander in the second inning. Entering Saturday, Luna was unbeaten in the postseason, including a no-hitter to beat Florida State in a super regional. Oklahoma hitters worked her for five walks, three hits and three earned runs.
“We know how [Luna] pitches,” said Oklahoma senior catcher Jessica Shultz, a native of California. “We were pretty excited about getting to play Texas at the World Series. Any time you face Texas it is a big game, especially when you play for OU. To beat them [in Oklahoma City], it is a little bit bigger.”
For 2 1/2 innings it was a battle. Texas jumped on the almost unhittable Keilani Ricketts in their third at-bat.
“We’ve talked about OU throughout this year, obviously with them being in our conference” said Texas head coach Connie Clark, whose squad will need to win three games to get another shot at Oklahoma. “They are a good ballclub, we are a good ballclub. When you are facing teams at the World Series you can’t give them extra opportunities. We made some uncharacteristic plays [Saturday].”
Ricketts did not give up a hit in her first outing, a win against Michigan on Thursday night. Texas got to the big left-hander in the top of the third, taking a 1-0 lead on Brejae Washington’s bloop single to left; the lead moved to 2-0 when Ricketts walked Kim Bruins with the bases loaded. A two-out running catch by Oklahoma center fielder Destinee Martinez ended any further damage, but Texas drew first blood.
The Sooners answered immediately, however.
Ricketts slapped a double down the right-field line to score one, and Callie Parsons’ single up the middle scored two. With another runner aboard, a Brianna Turang bunt turned into disaster for Texas. In relief of Luna, Bruins fielded the bunt and threw wildly to first. The speedy Turang was on third before the right fielder picked up the ball in the corner; by the time the dust had settled it was 6-2 in favor of Oklahoma.
The Sooners continued to roll in the fourth inning, slapping around and chasing Bruins from the circle. After the second round of dust settled, Okahoma led 9-2. An inning later, the run-rule was in effect. The top seed this week has now outscored their NCAA postseason opponents 76-11.
Bragging rights in this Red River rivalry, for a few days anyway, belonged to Oklahoma.