The Moore American

June 12, 2013

Sooners finish championship mission

The Moore American

OKLAHOMA CITY — The last time Oklahoma walked away with a national championship was in 2000. It has been a long 13 years for the program and the Sooner Nation as they waited for their turn to come back around.

The wait ended Tuesday when the Sooners claimed their second national title in school history by defeating Tennessee 4-0 at the Women’s College World Series.

However, when the Sooners made their triumphant walk around the field at Hall of Fame Stadium, they didn’t wave an OU flag. The players hoisted the state flag of Oklahoma and carried it around in front of them to show who they were truly playing for this entire week.

“I think the big thing is they were on a mission to win a national championship,” Olympic Softball Gold Medalist Michele Smith said. “To try and bring some reprieve to the state of Oklahoma, which has been hit hard in the last two weeks. I was here right after Moore for Super Regionals. They had a completely different look than the team I had seen a couple of times earlier in the year.”

The victory came in front of a capacity crowd and new attendance record of 8,527. After going 12 innings late into the night the day before, Oklahoma made quick work of the Volunteers to close out the tournament.

It was something OU fans came from miles around to see.

“I drove up to support the OU team,” Lawton’s Melissa Martinez said. “They have a good program. Girls softball has come a long way. I’m here to support the game of women’s softball.”

The Sooners (57-4) came into the season ranked No. 1 in the nation. They held onto that title for almost the entire year. Tennessee coach Ralph Weekly said OU proved they are deserving of being put in the class as one of the best ever.

“They are an amazing team,” Weekly said. “I spent nine years with our national team. This Oklahoma team would have beat most of the other countries. Even the great ones. I don’t know if they would have beat the U.S., but I tell you what, they are a great team.”

Several of the Sooners counterparts in other sports came out and cheered on the softball team throughout the week. From men’s gymnastics to women’s soccer to football, the Oklahoma athletic family was well represented.

“I see those girls all day every day in the academic center,” OU wide receiver Sterling Shepard said. “For them to win the national championship is great to see. They have been working hard. I know how much work we put in for football. They put in as much work as we do. That is the end result that you look for at the end of the season. And they were able to accomplish it.

“Props to them.”

The softball team may have also have given the rest of the programs a little incentive for next year.

“Definitely,’ Shepard said. “We are going to work hard and try to get there. Seeing the ladies do it tonight, they brought it home to Oklahoma. And we want to do the same.”

This was the eighth trip to the WCWS in program history for the Sooners. They have reached the best-of-three championship finals three times since the format was changed in 2005.

When the game was over, the Sooners spent more than an hour hanging around the field, not wanting let go of the feeling. The fans who watched had the same feeling.

“This is the first time we came,” Wes Wood of McAlester said. “But we will definitely come back. It was a lot of fun. Was sort of a softball fan before, I am more now for sure. I like the small atmosphere. It reminds me of what college sports is all about.”

Michael Kinney Follow me @eyeamtruth