The Washington Post

With Alo going deep, Sooners stay alive



OKLAHOMA CITY — Jocelyn Alo knew her hit was gone as soon as she made contact.

Oklahoma’s slugger blasted a go-ahead homer in the sixth inning, and the Sooners beat Florida State, 6-2, on Wednesday night to force a decisive Game 3 for the Women’s College World Series title.

It was Alo’s 33rd home run of the season. The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year added to her school record. But this one was different.

“I did know it was out,” Alo said. “And I think the last time I circled the bases that quickly was probably my freshman year, my first-ever home run.”

The final game will be played Thursday afternoon. Oklahoma (55-4) is seeking its fifth national championsh­ip. Florida State (49-12-1) is trying for its second title in four years.

Alo sent Kathryn Sandercock’s 2-0 pitch over the right-center field fence, giving the Sooners a 3-2 lead. Her blast fired up the crowd of 12,115 mostly Sooners fans at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium, which is about 25 miles from Oklahoma’s campus.

The homer gave the Sooners the Division I single-season record for home runs with 159, breaking the mark Hawaii set in 2010.

Giselle Juarez pitched a complete game for Oklahoma. She gave up two runs in the first inning, then threw six scoreless innings and allowed just two hits the rest of the way.

“My hitters came up to me, and they were like: ‘We’ve got you. We have your back,’ ” Juarez said. “And I think for me, it was all about keeping them in that game. They had my back. They’re always going to have my back.”

Juarez improved to 4-0 in the tournament and has surrendere­d just three earned runs in 241/

3 innings. Oklahoma Coach Patty Gasso didn’t say whether Juarez would start Game 3.

“Everything is on the table right now,” Gasso said. “You’ve got to do everything you can to find a way to win this. So whatever we have to do — and I know she’ll do whatever she has to do as well.”

Mackenzie Donihoo and Kinzie Hansen each added two hits for Oklahoma.

Sandercock, a former Washington Post first-team All-met at O’connell who had been dominant during the World Series, started and gave up four earned runs and seven hits in five innings for the Seminoles, who won the opener of the best-of-three final, 8-4, on Tuesday.

“We knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Sandercock said. “We knew they were a great team. We knew they were going to make adjustment­s in the box. So that’s what we got. That’s what we saw. And this is why it’s a three-game series. You’ve got to beat us twice, or we’ve got to beat them twice. So we’re ready to get after it tomorrow.”

Florida State’s Elizabeth Mason hit a two-run homer in the first, giving the Seminoles an early lead.

Oklahoma’s Jana Johns homered to left field in the third, a shot that hit the 300-foot slowpitch fence on one bounce.

Oklahoma’s Tiare Jennings reached base on a throwing error in the sixth before Alo’s homer, which highlighte­d a four-run outburst in the inning.

“It was definitely Jocelyn Alo that kind of created this energy, and everybody just started to step up behind her,” Gasso said.

Mason said the Seminoles are ready to move on.

“Any game, win or loss, is just a rearview mirror game,” she said. “You put it behind you. It doesn’t affect the next game. We knew that they were going to come out swinging today. We knew they’d be a different team today. So we’ll be a different team tomorrow.”

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