Seventeen innings, five and a half hours and 12 runs.
In what was the longest game in Women’s College World Series history, Oklahoma defeated Florida 7-5 in the first game of the National Championship.
The contest was a series of momentum swings that featured three lead changes and three ties. After three and a half innings without a runner on base, Nicole DeWitt was the first to get on for either team. Two hits later she became the first to score after Aleshia Ocasio hit a double up the middle.
Oklahoma responded the next inning as Sydney Romeros singled up the middle that sent Nicole Pendley home.
After five innings characterized by strong defense, both teams were able to find some offense. The Sooners were first, taking the lead in the top of the sixth off a Nicole Mendes home run. It was only the eighth earned run that the Gators pitching staff had given up all season.
It looked as if Oklahoma had it all wrapped up. Leading 2-1 with two outs and a full count in the bottom of the seventh, redshirt freshman Sophia Reynoso gave the Gators a breath of fresh air. With a double to left field, Reynoso sent Ocasio home to tie the game at two-all.
Little did either team know that Reynoso’s hit led to another 10 innings of play, in a game that broke the record for Florida’s longest softball game ever.
Despite a pitching change from Kelly Barnhill to Delanie Gourley, not much happened in extra innings until the top of the 12th. Fale Aviu broke Gourley’s perfect game up at that point as she hammered a home run to right field that scored her and Shay Knighten.
However, it was be deja vu for Oklahoma. Leading 4-2 with two outs in the bottom of the 12th, it appeared as if the Sooners were going to end the game.
That wasn’t be the case.
Amanda Lorenz, who leads the team in hits, became Florida’s second savior of the evening. In a miracle-like play, Lorenz pounded a double to left field that sent Reynoso and Lily Mann home to tie the game at four.
The Gators and Sooners then entered another drought, trading scoreless innings until the 17th.
Shay Knighten delivered the final blow to the Gators’ defense, whacking a homer to left field that saw her, Mendes and Caleigh Clifton score to put the Sooners up by three.
Mann scored again for the Gators after getting batted in by Lorenz but it wasn’t enough. Going 0-for-7 on the night, Kayli Kvistad would be the final out in the bottom of the 17th to end the game at 12:30 EST.
Since 2005, only three teams have rallied after losing the first game to win the series outright. Florida will have a chance to beat the odds today as they face Oklahoma in game 2 of the championship series at 8 p.m.
Contact Spencer Thompson at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @spencemthompson.
UF pitcher Kelly Barnhill pitches during Florida's 5-0 win against Georgia on April 8, 2017, at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.