With two outs and the bases loaded in the second inning, Oklahoma’s Shay Knighten hammered a ball to center field.
Her hit, good enough for a three-run RBI, snatched the lead from Florida’s fingertips in game two of the Women’s College World Series.
It was just like Monday night, where her home run in the 17th inning of game one instantly went down as a classic in college softball history.
And while UF had plenty of time to fight back on Tuesday night after relinquishing the lead to Knighten once again, the Gators simply didn’t have enough left in the tank.
Needing to win game two of the series to keep its season alive for one final matchup, Florida’s offense struggled after the second inning, scoring only once off a solo shot from senior outfielder Chelsea Herndon.
With UF’s troubles at the plate and Knighten’s heroics, the Sooners won the contest 5-4 to clinch their second consecutive national championship and their third in the past five years.
In the first inning, Oklahoma began the scoring with a homer to left field by freshman Nicole Mendes.
The Gators came roaring back in the second inning, as a home run by redshirt freshman Sophia Reynoso brought life back into Florida’s offense.
Reynoso totaled four hits and a pair of RBI’s in the series.
After the home run, Florida loaded up the bases and junior Aleshia Ocasio delivered a hit with two outs to send outfielder Justine McLean home. A hit by pitch against Kayli Kvistad then gave UF an early 3-1 lead.
Ocasio started the night at pitcher, but after six hits through two innings, she was quickly replaced by senior Delanie Gourley.
Gourley came into the circle with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second, and after striking out the first batter she faced, she gave up a walk to send a Sooner home. It was immediately followed by Knighten’s double.
The four runs were all she would give up in the game, ending the evening with five strikeouts. Gourley ends the season with a .71 ERA, one of the lowest in the country.
After the initial few innings, pitching settled in on Oklahoma’s side as well. The Sooner duo of Mariah Lopez and Paige Lowary allowed only one hit after the third inning, quelling any sort of Florida offensive comeback and clinching Oklahoma’s fourth national title in program history.
“Overall, I thought we were prepared,” UF coach Tim Walton said in a release. “We had a chance, but I’m proud… I think to get to this point, it takes a special group of players that really has a drive for their own -- not perfection, but greatness.”
For Florida, the top seed entering the tournament, Tuesday’s loss ends its season with a 58-10 record. The night also signifies Gourley, Herndon and McLean’s final appearance in a Gator uniform. The three seniors finish their careers combining for over 500 games played, nine Women’s College World Series appearances and six national championships.