The 2021 Women’s College World Series championship series is set. No. 1 Oklahoma will take on No. 10 Florida State in a best-of-three series for the title. Both teams lost on day one and had to climb their way out of the losers bracket to get to the national championship series. The Seminoles have now won their last eight WCWS elimination games after winning the 2018 title from the losers bracket.
The deciding game 3 is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday on ESPN.
The Sooners were the No. 1 team in the country for practically the entire year, with only two losses in the regular season. They are home to the National Player of the Year Jocelyn Alo and the Freshman of the Year Tiare Jennings, and they are the top home run hitting and slugging team in the country. This team has put up double-digit runs 31 times this season.
HOW IT HAPPENED: How OU and FSU got the national championship series
Florida State on the other hand has a completely different back story. The Seminoles struggled a bit in the regular season, going 39-10-1, but have come alive in the postseason. They are not known for the long ball, as their success has been from quite the opposite in the WCWS. They are playing a lot of small ball, stringing together base hit after base hit and getting it done. They have won on walk-offs, low-scoring games, you name it. This team is scrappy and heading to the title series.
Oklahoma: The Sooners are headed back to the national championship series after losing in 2019 to UCLA in a walk-off fashion. They will be seeking their fifth national championship. Their most recent national titles came in back-to-back years in 2016 and 2017, and all of their championships have been under head coach Patty Gasso.
Florida State: The Seminoles won their first national championship in 2018 under head coach Lonni Alameda. You might remember their 2018 title run by Jessie Warrens diving play in the infield and Meghan King’s dominating performance in the circle. Five current players for the Seminoles played on the national championship team in 2018: Sydney Sherrill, Anna Shelnutt, Elizabeth Mason, Dani Morgan, and Cassidy Davis. Their 2018 trip looked a little different — they had double-digit home runs. This year there's a different identity.
Oklahoma: The Sooners are known for their high-powered offense, but they have a ton of options in the circle headed into the national championship series. G Juarez, Shannon Saile and Nicole May. G Juarez will likely be their go-to, but all three of them will probably be utilized. Juarez pitched lights out against James Madison in the decisive semifinal matchup. Her rise ball was extremely successful against strong JMU hitters. After giving up the opening home run, she only allowed three hits after that and struck out 11. In the first game of the JMU semifinals series, Shannon Saile got the start but Nicole May entered in relief and shut the JMU offense down, striking out six batters with just two hits allowed.
Florida State: The Seminoles will also use all three of their pitchers. Kathryn Sandercock will be their No. 1 pitcher, and then Caylan Arnold and Danielle Watson will come in as needed. All three were used in Monday’s second win over Alabama. Sandercock has been phenomenal throughout the WCWS. In the win over Oklahoma State to head to the semifinals, she allowed no earned runs and five hits with eight strikeouts. In the first game against Alabama in the semis, she entered in relief in the fifth inning and didn’t allow a single runner to reach base.
Oklahoma: Where do you even start here? The Sooners are arguably one of the best hitting teams in the country top to bottom. Maybe not even arguably — it is kind of a matter of fact. They lead the nation in batting average, home runs per game, slugging and scoring. Jocelyn Alo leads the nation in home runs with 31, and Tiare Jennings ranks second in that category with 27 bombs as a freshman. Jennings also leads the nation in RBI… followed by Alo as No. 2 and then another OU standout, Kinzie Hansen at No. 3. There is not a single hitter in this lineup that doesn’t rake. In fact, the emergence of the bottom half of the lineup in the tournament has been notable. Mackenzie Donihoo hit three home runs on elimination Saturday and had a crucial two-RBI double against JMU on Monday. Nicole Mendes and Jayda Coleman have also been huge sparks for the Sooners. SIX players are hitting above .400, this is a tough offense to stop. The Sooners were held to a season-low in runs in their 4-3 opening loss to JMU, but after that they returned to their familiar domination. In their four elimination games, they outscored their opponents 31-7 with 37 hits, eight home runs, and a .313 team average.
Florida State: The Seminoles have been getting production from their entire lineup. In Monday’s win over Alabama to secure a spot in the national championship series, Kaley Mudge went five-for-five with two RBI. Elizabeth mason had two hits, three RBI and a three-run home run in the win and Kalei Harding tallied two hits and two RBI from the bottom of the lineup. Dani Morgan has been a steady catalyst for the Seminoles as well. She scored both of the Noles’ runs in their 2-0 win over Bama in the first game of the semifinals and had a three-run bomb in their win over Arizona. The biggest thing about the FSU offense, though, has been timely hitting. They string together base hits one after another to get runs on the board, and they play scrappy and fast. They turn a lot of singles into doubles and doubles into triples with their aggressive base running. Mason addressed their aggressive base-running after the game on Monday. "If you're not willing to risk it all you're not worthy to win it all," Mason said.
Oklahoma: The Sooners own the fifth-best fielding percentage in the NCAA (.983). This makes sense when you think about the Jayda Coleman diving plays in the outfield and Tiare Jennings making absolute snags at second. Even Kinzie Hansen behind the plate has been making highlight catches in foul territory in the WCWS. This defense is extremely athletic and they make a lot of plays behind their pitcher.
Florida State: The Seminoles own a .975 fielding percentage. They win a lot of close games or walk offs, and their defense is a huge part of that. In beating Alabama twice in the semifinals, their defense and pitching held Alabama scoreless in the first outing. They held No. 5 Oklahoma State to just two runs, and No. 11 Arizona to three. Kathryn Sandercock and Caylan Arnold have been a powerful one-two punch that have willed them through these four elimination games. This defense and pitching will be a huge factor against OU’s high-powered offense.
Oklahoma: Offense. Obviously, and a home crowd here in OKC. If the Sooner bats get going, things get hot, and fast. This team gets fired up, they show a lot energy and excitement, and they feed off of an extremely lively Sooner crowd.
Florida State: Experience. Five seniors on this team have already won a championship in 2018, and they all were a huge part of that title. Their performance in the 2021 WCWS has proved that they certainly know what they are doing.
Oklahoma: It is difficult to find a weakness when you look at this team on paper. But as we know, this team is not invincible. There have been pitchers capable of containing this offense, with James Madison's Odicci Alexander one of them. They have faced little adversity this season, far less than FSU has, and we all know you learn the most from the losses and mishaps.
Florida State: Run production. This team didn’t have a single player hitting .300 before Monday’s game. They have clearly shown that home runs are not the end-all-be-all, and that there are other means of run production. But still, they are going up against a team that is nine times out of 10 going to put a large amount of runs up on the board.
Who will win:
Oklahoma will win if: Their offense gets rolling. If they are getting hits off of Sandercock early, gaining the momentum, forcing the Seminoles to look to their bullpen and scramble for answers, they will win this series.
FSU will win if: Sandercock and the Nole’s pitching staff is able to contain OU’s hitters and if their offense can find a way to put runs on the board like they did Monday night. They will need big-time production from the top of their lineup, Kaley Mudge, Sydney Sherrill, Elizabeth Mason and Cassidy Davis.