The week got off to a tragic start in Oklahoma as an EF5 tornado ripped through the state, wreaking havoc on the city of Moore and causing unspeakable devastation on Monday.

Oklahomans and the nation rallied around the victims of the horrific natural disaster as 24-hour news networks covered the gripping story.

And, while college athletic competitions should certainly take a backseat to the aftermath of the tornado, teams from the state have given citizens a welcomed distraction with an incredible week of accomplishments.

The No. 1 Oklahoma softball team clinched its third consecutive berth in the Women’s College World Series as the Sooners breezed through the Norman Super Regional with a pair of victories against Texas A&M. The Sooners will be making their eighth overall appearance in the WCWS, which is held annually in Oklahoma City – about 15 minutes from the destruction in Moore.

“I just couldn’t be happier for this team and the things that we have had to go through in the last couple of weeks to just continue to carry the flag for Oklahoma, OU, Moore and the Angle family and for this team who is ready to fight for a championship,” OU head softball coach Patty Gasso said.

Sydney Angle, a nine-year-old softball player who died in the tornado, was honored by OU and Texas A&M before the Super Regional and the United Way collected donations at the softball stadium throughout the weekend.

“Usually we say that we're playing for the name on the front of our jersey,” OU senior pitcher Keilani Ricketts said. “That name has a different meaning to it now.”

The Sooners will open the WCWS against Michigan on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 as they battle for their first title since 2000.

The Big 12 Conference Baseball Championship, held at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, was pushed back a day due to the tragic events. Teams like West Virginia, visiting for the tournament, immediately started relief efforts, heading to the local Wal-Mart and buying clothes and supplies for victims.

Before the championship began, junior left-hander Dillon Overton made it known the Sooners were motivated by the disaster in Moore. Overton picked up the victory in an 8-0 win against Texas Tech on Friday.

"They're closest to Norman and we're playing in Oklahoma City, which is like a home ballpark it's so close,” Overton said. “We're going to try to go up there and win it for them."

The No. 4 seeded Sooners finally opened the tournament on Thursday with a 2-0 shutout against Baylor, and rolled throughout the championship, claiming their first league tournament title since 1997 with a 7-2 defeat of Kansas on Sunday. OU moves on to NCAA Regional action on Friday against Coastal Carolina as the No. 2 seed in the Blacksburg Regional hosted by Virginia Tech.

On Monday, the Central Oklahoma softball team captured the Division II Championship, defeating Kutztown 5-2 in Salem, Va. It is the first women’s team national title for UCO, which concluded a perfect 9-0 run through the NCAA postseason.

UCO is located just 30 minutes north of Moore.  The Borden Perlman Insurance Company, a secondary insurance agent for the athletic departments at UCO and Kutztown, donated $100 for every run scored in Monday’s title game.

• No. 1 USC women’s golf team won its third NCAA team title in dominating fashion as the Trojans finished the 72-hole tournament with a 19-under 1,133, setting an NCAA championship record for most strokes under par at the University of Georgia G.C. in Athens, Ga. Five USC golfers place in the top 17, including freshman Annie Park, who claimed individual medalist honors with a 10-under total of 278.  It was Park’s third consecutive victory after taking the Pac-12 title and NCAA West Regional individual championship.

• The third time was the charm for North Carolina’s women’s lacrosse squad as the Tar Heels knocked off No. 1 Maryland in the NCAA Division I title game on Sunday for their first national championship in the sport. Sammy Jo Tracy netted the game-winning goal 31 seconds into the third sudden-death overtime period, while Kara Cannizzaro tallied four goals and two assists in the contest. UNC had lost to previously undefeated Maryland twice this season, first in the regular season and then in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game. 

Marshall

• The Connecticut baseball team pulled off the improbable as the No. 8-seeded Huskies claimed the Big East Championship with an 8-1 victory against Notre Dame on Sunday, becoming the first eight seed to win the event. UConn defeated top-seeded Louisville, USF, Rutgers and the Irish in tournament play after combining for a 1-11 record against the four teams during the regular season. It was UConn’s first Big East title since 1994 and first under head coach Jim Penders, who was a player on the ’94 squad. The Huskies earned an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament with the win.

• The Tufts softball team won the program’s first NCAA Division III title with a 6-5 defeat of Cortland State on Memorial Day, propelled by sophomore centerfielder Michelle Cooprider’s two-run double and second baseman Gracie Marshall’s game-winning RBI-single in the fifth inning. Tufts is the first New England team to win the DIII title since Eastern Connecticut State accomplished the feat in 1990. 

Wisconsin-Oshkosh junior Christy Cazzola, a 27-year-old mother of two children, won three events at the NCAA Division III Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships, taking titles in the 800-meter, 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter races as she helped the Titans to a second-place team finish. The win in the 1,500 was her third consecutive outdoor title in the event. 

“This might be my last NCAA championship, so I had to make sure that I gave it my all and saw what I could do out there,” Cazzola said. “I’m so amazed that I won three events. I don’t know how I did it — I don’t — because all of those girls out there are amazing athletes. Any other day somebody else could win. I don’t know how I won all three in one day.”
Read more about her amazing achievement here

Le Moyne goalie Jeff White collected 13 saves and held off No. 1 Mercyhurst’s fourth-quarter rally as the Dolphins captured the Division II Men’s Lacrosse Championship with an 11-10 victory on Sunday. White, the Most Outstanding Player of the championship, made 10 saves in the second half for the Dolphins. Le Moyne handed Mercyhurst its’ first loss of the season and capped off the year with a 10-game winning streak as the Dolphins clinched their first NCAA title since 2007. 

THE DIGIT   THE 4-1-1
1 Virginia won the program’s first NCAA men’s tennis team title as it defeated top-seeded UCLA 4-3 on Tuesday, concluding the season with a perfect 30-0 mark. The Cavaliers became the first Atlantic Coast Conference school to win a men’s tennis NCAA title. Mitchell Frank’s come-from-behind victory against Adrien Puget at No. 3 singles keyed the win for the Cavaliers.
4 Texas senior Blaire Luna tossed her fourth no-hitter of the season as the Longhorns topped Florida State in the NCAA Austin Super Regional 4-0 on Sunday to advance to the WCWS for the first time since 2006.  Luna improved to 30-5 on the season as she struck out 13 batters in the outing. 
5 Stevenson sophomore Mark Pannenton netted five goals in a 16-14 defeat of RIT on Sunday to lift the Mustangs to their first NCAA Division III Men’s Lacrosse Championship. It was the third time this season Pannenton has scored five goals in a game as he was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. He tallied 13 goals in five NCAA tournament games, moving up to second place on the schools single-season list with 62 goals. The Mustangs finished off the season on a 10-game winning streak and a school-record 22 victories.
6 The Williams women’s tennis team captured its sixth consecutive NCAA Division III Championship with a 5-2 defeat of Emory on Wednesday. Williams and Division I’s Stanford are the only women’s tennis teams to have ever won six NCAA titles in a row. The Ephs pulled off the double as the Williams men’s squad topped No. 1 Claremont Mudd Scripps 5-2 later in the day. Williams is the first school to achieve the feat since 2006. 
20 Duke’s Brendan Fowler was voted the Division I Men’s Lacrosse Most Outstanding Player after winning 20-of-28 faceoffs in the Blue Devils 16-10 comeback victory against top-seeded Syracuse on Monday. Fowler won 13 consecutive faceoffs in one stretch, helping the Blue Devils bounce back from a 5-0 second-quarter deficit.
2002 No. 14-seed Nebraska advanced to the Women’s College World Series for the first time since 2002 after a hard-fought Super Regional series win at No. 3 Oregon, including a 4-2 victory in the elimination contest. Nebraska’s two wins at Oregon’s home field were the Ducks only home losses of their season. The Huskers advanced to the WCWS for the sixth time in program history, ending a 10-year drought – the longest of any team in the eight-team field.

The Central Arkansas baseball team won five consecutive elimination games to claim its first Southland Conference title and the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Division I tournament.  The national postseason appearance will be the first for the Bears since playing in the 1959 NAIA playoffs. Central Arkansas moved to NCAA Division II in 1993 and to Division I in 2007, becoming eligible for postseason play in 2010 after its transition period.

Bryant sophomore right-hander Kevin McAvoy hurled a complete-game shutout to buoy the Bulldogs to an 8-0 victory against Sacred Heart on Sunday and the program’s first Northeast Conference title. McAvoy surrendered just three hits in the contest, and needed just 94 pitches to earn the victory. The Bulldogs also earned their first NCAA Division I Championship berth after setting a school record with 44 victories. 

Saint Augustine’s men’s track and field team dominated the NCAA Division II Championship, winning the program’s first outdoor title since 2010 by an incredible 48-point margin. It is the Falcons’ 11th men’s outdoor title and 33rd NCAA championship for head coach George Williams. The Falcons also won the indoor crown in March, becoming the first team to sweep both championships since 2005. 

Follow Amy Farnum on Twitter: @NCAA_Amy