WCWS: Five to remember
Alabama caps off magical run with first national championship
Where do you start? When looking back at the 2012 Women’s College World Series, the amount of memorable moments is immense. Like the sport itself, it kept growing; as each game meant more, the response was that much bigger, more dramatic every inning. Even Mother Nature got into the act, providing one of the coolest days in recent WCWS history and then adding delays and the possibility of a wash out during the Game 3 of the finals series. The weather withstanding, here are the top five things I will easily remember about this WCWS:
Key matchup: Oklahoma’s Keilani Ricketts vs. Alabama’s Jackie Traina
|WOMEN'S COLLEGE WORLD SERIES|
|Game 3: Alabama 5, Oklahoma 4|
Getting to Know
• LSU | UC | USF | OU | UO | ASU | UT | UA
• Tide far from giving up
• WCWS the best medicine for Shults
• Alabama stands tall at WCWS
• Oklahoma's powerful punch
• LSU’s long, winding road
• Two better than one for Bears
• How a Kiwi changed the Ducks
• Bulls following plan to the letter
• Previewing the Women's College World Series
Big names on the best teams battling it out for the national title. How does it get any better? Not only do they pitch, but they each hit – and hit extremely well – leading to head-to-head matchups that had record crowds clamoring for more. Keilani Ricketts was dominating at times, finishing with 64 strikeouts and a 1.69 ERA in six games (4-2). She had a home run to start the scoring in Game 3 and struck out five of the first six batters she faced. But it was Jackie Traina who led her team to the national title, winning the matchup between the All-Americans. Traina laced a screamer through the hole at second on an 0-2 pitch in the fifth to provide what would be the game-winning RBI and finish with a .400 and four RBI in the WCWS. She then punctuated the title in Hollywood fashion with a strikeout against Ricketts on three pitches to end the game just moments after an OU solo home run cut the margin to one run. Traina’s 45th K on the week went with a 3.00 ERA and 5-1 record as she earned MVP honors, deservedly so.
In the scorebook: Alabama’s two-out scoring down the stretch
Alabama rode the arm of Jackie Traina into the championship series and then it was timely hitting in the second and third games that paved the way to the Southeastern Conferences’ first national title. The Tide have a sign on the right field foul pole at home in Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., reminding them that two-out situations are not times to give up. In Oklahoma City, they didn’t. Alabama scored 11 of its 13 runs in the championship series with two outs, including four in the decisive game. It was par for the course as 39 of the 95 combined runs by all eight teams during the week came when teams were down to their last out in an inning.
Around the leagues: Pac-12 comes up short
A casual fans’ first guess for picking the teams in the softball championship game in any year would likely include a squad from the Pac-12 Conference. It’s only natural. The league has dominated the sport since its inception, running away with 22 national titles while no other league has more than two. That’s why this year’s WCWS finals series will be one to note because it did not include a Pac-12 school for the first time since 1986. It’s a streak of 26 years with a Pac-12 team in the championship game/series after Arizona State, the defending national champion, and California, the No. 1 seed entering the tournament, were eliminated in the semifinals.
Fan sentiment: Popularity of the sport continues to grow
They filed in from every corner of the stadium, had nearly every color of gear and cheered for all eight teams – although maybe more for some. Fans came out in record numbers, setting session attendance marks across the board. The final tally? A total of 75,960 fans came through the turnstiles at ASA Hall of Fame stadium during the seven days of action, setting an all-time WCWS mark, easily topping the previous mark of 67,631 set in 2011. Sure, Oklahoma was practically playing in its back yard, but the stands were still packed on an unseasonably cool Friday night long after OU had moved on and they were there in droves on a hot Saturday when the Sooners had an off day. It was the same for Game 3 of the championship series when the game was delayed twice for more than two hours. Seems that without an Olympic squad to look to, fans around the nation have found the collegiate game and all it offers to be a worthy alternative.
Top play: Scoring on a sacrifice fly to shortstop
Vanderbilt executed a triple steal, including a straight steal of home, in the SEC baseball tournament two weeks ago. While textbook in nature, it may not have been as impressive as LSU’s A.J. Andrews scoring from third base on a fly ball that didn’t reach the grass. The play itself was remarkable as a lazy popup to shortstop was all Andrews needed. She raced home, made a beautiful dive over the bat that lie in the way and swiped the plate just a split second before the tag. More impressive: the sixth-inning run was the deciding factor in a 1-0 victory against South Florida in an elimination game. Talk about timing.