The Journal Gazette
 
 
Friday, June 11, 2021 1:00 am

Women's College World Series Oklahoma 5 Florida St. 1

Sooners ride pitcher to 5th championship

CLIFF BRUNT | Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY – Giselle Juarez re-emerged as the star pitcher Oklahoma needed to complement its high-powered offense, and now the Sooners are national champions again.

Juarez threw her second consecutive complete game, and Oklahoma beat Florida State 5-1 on Thursday for its fifth Women's College World Series title.

The Sooners lacked a dominant pitcher heading into the series, but Juarez answered the call, giving up one run on two hits in the decisive Game 3. Oklahoma won Game 2 6-2 behind Juarez, who went 5-0 at the World Series and was named Most Outstanding Player. The left-hander gave up four runs in 31 1/3 innings.

Juarez, a super senior, was a first-team NFCA All-American in 2019 but had surgery on her left arm last year and struggled to regain her form.

“The beginning of the season wasn't great for me, but I just kept grinding and trusting God's plan for myself. He had this moment planned for me,” Juarez said.

Much of the crowd stood when Juarez took the circle in the seventh inning. Fittingly, the final out was a popup into her glove.

“Honestly, I was kind of hoping it didn't go in the sun and that they would let me catch it,” she said. “But I mean, it felt so slow motion, and then just to look up after I caught it and see (Kinzie) Hansen running at me – surreal, awesome moment.”

After Juarez secured the catch, teammates mobbed her and “Boomer Sooner” blared over the sound system as the crowd of 10,830 at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium – mostly Oklahoma fans – celebrated the win just 25 miles from campus.

It wasn't easy for the top-seeded Sooners – they came out of the losers' bracket after dropping a stunner to Odicci Alexander and unseeded James Madison in the tournament's opening game. But Oklahoma beat James Madison twice in the semifinal round, then recovered from a loss to Florida State in the championship series opener.

Oklahoma (56-4) also won titles in 2000, 2013, 2016 and 2017, all under coach Patty Gasso. The Sooners set the Division I single-season record with 161 home runs this season.

 Florida State (49-13-1) was seeking its second national championship in the past three World Series under coach Lonni Alameda.


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