WCWS 2019: Tournament schedule, how to watch, news, results

Oklahoma gets three home runs, including one huge one from Jocelyn Alo, to take down Alabama 7-3 and advance to the final.


OKLAHOMA CITY -- The 2019 Women's College World Series, the culmination of the NCAA Division I softball season, started May 30, 2019 in Oklahoma City. The final act is a best-of-three championship series between top-seeded Oklahoma and second-seeded UCLA.

411: How to watch

Game 1: UCLA 16, Oklahoma 3

Game 2:
Oklahoma vs. UCLA, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, ESPN App)

Game 3:
UCLA vs. Oklahoma, 8:30 p.m. ET, if necessary (ESPN, ESPN App)

Scores and schedule: Women's College World Series

Road to the title: News and analysis

For the first time, the championship series pits No. 1 versus No. 2. UCLA has won 11 NCAA titles; Oklahoma has won four. UCLA spent seven weeks atop the ESPN.com/USA Collegiate Softball Top 25 poll this season. Oklahoma, which won a record 41 straight during one stretch, spent five. Here is how the Sooners and Bruins advanced to the finals.

  • Wayne Drehs: It was far from easy, but UCLA is back on top after a thrilling win over Oklahoma. Read
  • Katie Barnes: "Big Play Shay" strikes again in Oklahoma loss. Read
  • Barnes: It's moth mayhem at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium. Read
  • Wayne Drehs: In Game 1, it was three errors and out for Oklahoma against UCLA. Read
  • Barnes: UCLA in control -- and rested -- heading into Game 2. Read
  • Barnes: The two best teams have survived. Our complete guide to Oklahoma-UCLA. Read
  • Drehs: What happens when two friends, business partners and passionate softball advocates find themselves cheering for different teams? Ten innings of entertaining tension. Read
  • Barnes: Ignore the score in Kelly Barnhill's final Women's College World Series appearance. The Gators ace goes out a winner. Read
  • Drehs: Before the NCAA softball season, Stevie Wisz was told she needed heart surgery -- again. Instead, she's running the bases and scoring runs as UCLA goes for a national title. Read
  • Barnes: UCLA's Rachel Garcia hits, pitches, repeats as the espnW softball player of the year. Read
  • Jake Trotter: The Oklahoma senior class has a chance to win its third national title in four years. Read

June 2: Oklahoma, UCLA reach finish line

Joshua Gateley / ESPN Images

Jocelyn Alo woke up the Oklahoma bats Sunday night with a two-run home run.

Oklahoma 7, Alabama 3

For the better part of 13 innings spread across two games on Sunday, it was as if Oklahoma and Alabama were allergic to scoring runs. It hadn't been easy for either team to muster much beyond zeroes on the USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium scoreboard.

Sure, the top-ranked Sooners led Alabama 2-1 in the fifth inning of their second game of the day. But those runs came on a walk, a double and a pair of wild pitches. Hardly an offensive explosion. In the first game between the two teams Sunday afternoon, nobody pushed across a run until Alabama's Caroline Hardy poked a grounder into center field to score Kloyee Anderson in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Crimson Tide a 1-0 win.

The Sooners, who led the country in home runs during the regular season, had not once cleared the fence in four Women's College World Series games. But that was before sophomore right fielder Jocelyn Alo stepped to the plate.

In her first two at-bats Sunday night, the Sooner who hit 30 home runs last year as a freshman was 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts against Alabama's Krystal Goodman. But in her third at-bat Alo crushed Goodman's 0-1 offering, hitting a towering home run deep into the Oklahoma night. The bomb cleared not only the wall, the bleachers and the ESPN camera stand, but a pizza truck and secondary fence beyond that. It eventually smacked into a car, whose driver surely thought they had parked far enough from home plate to be safe.

"Sweet," Alo said after finding out her blast hit a car outside the stadium. "It felt effortless. Off the bat, I was like, 'Yeah.'"

The homer gave Oklahoma a 4-1 lead it would never lose in an eventual 7-3 victory over Alabama, giving the Sooners their sixth appearance in the Women's College World Series championship series. Oklahoma has won the title in four of its previous five appearances in the finals.

Waiting for the Sooners on Monday night will be UCLA, which beat Washington 3-0 in 10 innings in Sunday's first semifinal.

"We have got to have some crazy fight," Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso said. "I know both teams are a little worn out. But there are only two teams with a chance to win a national championship. There's no such thing as tired. No such thing as hurt. You have to live off the adrenaline and give it all you have."

Alo's blast opened the proverbial floodgates for Oklahoma. Nicole Mendes added a two-run homer into the right-field bleachers to chase Goodman and help ensure an Oklahoma victory. Grace Lyons then added a solo shot in the sixth to make it 7-3.

"When she hit that home run, it was like a spark ignited us," Mendes said. "And once that spark is lit, you're not going to stop us."

Sunday's game was the third time Oklahoma and Alabama played this year in Oklahoma City, with the Sooners beating Alabama 3-2 in the opener for both teams on Thursday night.

Pitching was the story in the first game, with Oklahoma ace Giselle Juarez surrendering just four hits while striking out eight over 7 2/3 innings. But two of those hits came in the fateful eighth inning, a leadoff single to Alabama's Reagan Dykes and a two-out single by Hardy that scored Anderson after she advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt.

Alabama freshman Montana Fouts scattered four hits and four walks over eight innings in the first game, becoming the first pitcher to shut out Oklahoma this season.

"The sky is the limit for her," Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. "She's really just learning how to pitch. When she starts to move the ball a little more ... when she gets different movement pitches spinning up, down, in and out, she's going to be really, really good."

After the first game, the teams switched uniforms and dugouts before coming back out to see who would get the right to face UCLA. Juarez started the second game for Oklahoma, lasting 1 2/3 innings, giving up a hit and a run before Gasso turned to Mariah Lopez.

Murphy elected to start Krystal Goodman in place of Fouts, who threw 143 pitches in the Game 1 win. "I want to be back here with her three more times," he said.

After failing to score once in the eight-inning Game 1, the Sooners jumped on the board right away in the first, with Sydney Romero drawing a leadoff walk and then scoring from first on a double to right center by Caleigh Clifton. Clifton then advanced to third on a wild pitch and then scored on another wild pitch to give Oklahoma a 2-0 lead.

Dykes answered with a solo homer in the top of the second to make it 2-1, which is where the score stood until Alo came to the plate in the fifth. With one swing of the bat, a bright-yellow ball illuminated the dark night and everything changed. A roller-coaster day for Oklahoma finally had its ultimate high.

"It's been a tough day," Gasso said. "A really tough day. Just a boatload of emotions all day long. But we just kept staying the course. You know what's at stake. And this team's ultimate goal is to win a national championship. So you just roll with it. And they did a really great job of that today." -- Wayne Drehs

UCLA 3, Washington 0

Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images

Rachel Garcia pitched 10 scoreless innings Sunday before ending it with a three-run homer.

Rachel Garcia had been waiting 10 innings for this pitch. She saw the change-up leave Gabbie Plain's hand, and with the score stuck at 0-0, she knew she had to swing. The crowd erupted as the ball sailed over the left-field fence. Garcia's UCLA teammates spilled onto the field as she rounded the bases.

The three-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th inning gave UCLA a 3-0 win over Washington in the semifinals of the Women's College World Series and sent the Bruins back to the championship series for the first time since 2010.

As Garcia, the consensus player of the year, rounded third base and jogged toward home, she ran past a row of screaming and hopping teammates before being engulfed by them.

"I'm not going to lie, I think I shed a tear a little bit," Garcia said. "Seeing everyone run out to home plate really put a smile on my face."

Garcia anchored UCLA all day. She threw 179 pitches and struck out 16. She gave up eight hits and walked four but managed to keep the Huskies off the scoreboard inning after inning after inning. Washington left 12 batters on base. The Huskies haven't scored a run on Garcia since April 2, 2017. She has pitched 35 innings against the Huskies in the 26 months since that game. Washington, the third seed, was eliminated with the loss.

Each time Garcia escaped a jam, she returned to the dugout, where UCLA assistant coach Lisa Fernandez reminded her that they had prepared for this. All the workouts wearing extra layers to mimic Oklahoma City heat and the extra cardio before pitching was paying off in this moment.

"My adrenaline was kicking up, so I wasn't feeling anything," Garcia said. "I just kept going. I'm pretty sure I could have done another game."

In 2018, UCLA had been in a similar position: in the semifinals of the winners' bracket in Oklahoma City. But the Bruins lost twice to Florida State and failed to reach the championship series. Garcia was in the circle on that day, too.

"Rachel Garcia was convicted; she was not going to let that happen again," UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said.

Garcia and the Bruins await the winner of Oklahoma and Alabama. Even though it will be the program's first appearance in the championship series in almost 10 years, UCLA isn't just happy to be there.

"We're not done yet," Garcia said. -- Katie Barnes

June 1: Washington, Alabama survive

Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images

Bailey Hemphill had a busy bat on Saturday, knocking in three runs against Florida and two more against Arizona.

Alabama 2, Arizona 0

The two games Alabama played on Saturday night (and the early hours of Sunday morning) could not have been more different. The offensive explosion (15 runs) against Florida in the first game did not stick around for the second game against Arizona.

But there was one constant: Bailey Hemphill.

The junior knocked in the only two runs Alabama scored during its 2-0 victory over the Wildcats. Those two RBIs, combined with her three against Florida, gave her 84 on the year, a school record and the most in NCAA Division I softball this season. She also hit her 26th home run against Florida to break the Alabama single-season record previously held by Kelly Kretschman.

"It's just an honor to be talked about with Kelly Kretschman in the same sentence," said Hemphill, who has reached base in 40 consecutive games.

Hemphill isn't just her bat, though. The junior came through in a big way in the field, making a game-saving play at first base in the fourth to get freshman pitcher Montana Fouts out of a bases-loaded jam.

"She has been money all year," Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. "She just keeps swinging a hot bat."

Alabama is hoping that continues for Sunday's rematch with the top-seeded Sooners. The Tide are excited for a do-over after falling to Oklahoma 3-2 on Thursday and eager to prove they belong in the final four.

Alabama was picked by the SEC coaches to finish eighth in the conference, and then after winning the regular-season conference title, the Tide were the No. 8 seed for the NCAA tournament. That number is a sore spot.

"The whole season, everyone has doubted us," Hemphill said. "We've had a chip on our shoulder, especially when we were No. 8 again. So we just keep proving people wrong."

Murphy knows that the Sunday task is a tall one. Alabama needs to figure out a way to beat Oklahoma twice to get back to the championship series for the first time since 2014.

"Sixteen of our 19 had never played here," Murphy said. "It's a lot to play the No. 1 team in basically their home facility. ... We're just hoping to play really well and allow the seniors to keep wearing the jersey." -- Katie Barnes

Washington 1, Oklahoma State 0

Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images

Taran Alvelo set a Washington record for strikeouts in a Women's College World Series game on Saturday with 16.

Taran Alvelo started her day by striking out the only batter she faced in Washington's 5-3 win over Minnesota. She ended her day by striking out 16 of the 24 batters she faced in Washington's 1-0 win over Oklahoma State and bat-flipping sensation Samantha Show.

Her 16 strikeouts ties a career high and is a program record for the most in a Women's College World Series game. It is also the most in a seven-inning WCWS game by any pitcher since Keilani Ricketts had 16 in 2012.

The hard-throwing righty appears to be in vintage form just in time for Washington's semifinal showdown Sunday against UCLA, and the senior's last dance in Oklahoma City.

This time last year, Alvelo was trying to stage a comeback. She'd been hampered by a rib injury and forced to sit out much of May before coming back to pitch the Huskies into super regionals. Then-freshman Gabbie Plain filled the void, foreshadowing what has become a two-ace system in Seattle. Washington rode the Plain wave into the championship series against Florida State, where the Huskies were swept. Alvelo did what she could, but she certainly wasn't at her best.

"She plays and lives with her heart," Washington coach Heather Tarr said. "It's hard sometimes when you live like that because you go up and you go down. For her to have the physical opportunity this year as opposed to last year coming off the injury, I'm really proud of her and hope we get to keep going as long as we can."

This is a new year, and a bit of a new Alvelo. Even though she gave up two home runs in Washington's Women's College World Series opener against Arizona on Thursday, she pitched well (three runs, six hits and 11 strikeouts). And as Washington looks to beat UCLA twice in the semifinals on Sunday -- mirroring what Florida State did against the Bruins last season -- Alvelo is essential to getting the Huskies back into the championship series.

In her last start against the Pac-12 titan, Alvelo gave up 15 runs in the final game of a three-game UCLA sweep in Seattle in March.

"It happens," Alvelo said of the UCLA game. "That was in the beginning of conference. They're a different team. We're a different team."

Alvelo is 15-1 with an 0.83 ERA since that loss. -- Katie Barnes

Alabama 15, Florida 3

Kaylee Tow pointed her right index finger to the sky, pumped one clenched fist, then shook both. She smacked coach Patrick Murphy a high-five as she rounded third base. She stomped with two feet on home plate. Finally, she was mobbed by euphoric teammates.

The Alabama sophomore had just clobbered an 0-2 pitch from Florida ace -- softball ace -- Kelly Barnhill over the right-field fence in the first inning with runners on first and third. It gave Alabama a three-run lead over its SEC rival in an elimination game at the Women's College World Series.

Two outs later with two more aboard, Merris Schroder sent one over the left-field wall and extended Alabama's lead to six. Her home run also sent Barnhill to the bench.

The first inning alone was more than enough cushion for SEC Pitcher of the Year Sarah Cornell. But the runs kept coming. In the fourth, Bailey Hemphill hit her 26th home run, a three-run shot off Katie Chronister, to give her 82 RBIs. Both are single-season Alabama school records. They were the final Tide runs in a 15-3 run-rule win.

It was the most runs scored in a Women's College World Series game in Alabama history.

"I'm so proud of every one of them," Murphy said. "That was easily the best offensive game we've had."

Florida avoided the shutout with three runs in the fifth and final inning.

It was a shocking result in a battle of the only two SEC teams to have won an NCAA softball title. Florida had defeated Alabama 2-1 in the final of the SEC championship in May. The Gators were given the No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament after that run. Alabama, the regular-season SEC champion, fell to a No. 8 seed.

It was the sixth meeting between the teams at the Women's College World Series. Florida had won the previous five, including a sweep in the 2014 championship series.

But after the game was delayed nearly four hours due to afternoon storms in Oklahoma City, Alabama's offense was electric.

The loss brought an end to the careers of Barnhill and Amanda Lorenz, the top two picks in the April National Pro Fastpitch draft. Barnhill lasted just two-thirds of an inning, her shortest outing since May 2017.

Washington 5, Minnesota 3

Courtesy Washington

Junior Morganne Flores hit her fifth home run of the NCAA tournament Saturday against Minnesota.

Morganne Flores missed all of last season after tearing her ACL. Now the Washington catcher is tearing up the NCAA softball postseason.

Flores cranked the first pitch she saw Saturday over Hall of Fame Stadium's center-field wall, propelling Washington to a 5-3 victory over Minnesota in the Women's College World Series first elimination game.

It was Flores' fifth home run this postseason, the ninth of her postseason career and her 23rd of the year. And it gave the Huskies (51-8) an early lead they wouldn't relinquish. Washington added another run in the first inning off a wild pitch. An Ali Lindner RBI double in the third cut the Washington lead to 2-1. But Washington tacked on another run in the fourth on a Sis Bates bloop that scored Madison Huskey.

Storms in the Oklahoma City area delayed the game in the top of the sixth inning for more than three hours. But it didn't dampen the Huskies' offense. Freshman Sami Reynolds lined a two-run double in the top of the fifth.

The Gophers tried to dig themselves out of their hole and scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh off Gabbie Plain, who struck out 10. The Huskies brought in Taran Alvelo to get the final out with a strikeout.

"It's been a long day, but we're excited to have this extra game," said Plain, who surrendered her first runs of the NCAA tournament on Saturday. "We're going to try to capitalize on that as much as possible."

Flores' early power flash, before the lightning arrived, underscored why the third-seeded Huskies remain a threat to advance to the finals, despite falling into the losers bracket after opening with a loss to Arizona on Thursday. In Plain and Alvelo, the Huskies have the pitching. With Flores back, they also have the pop.

Minnesota (46-14), the first Big Ten team to make the Women's College World Series in three years, was eliminated with the loss. -- Jake Trotter

May 31: UCLA, Oklahoma stay perfect

Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman/AP

Caleigh Clifton celebrates during Oklahoma's three-run first inning Friday night at the Women's College World Series.

Oklahoma 6, Oklahoma State 1

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State softball fans had seemingly been waiting for, well, forever for their teams to meet on the sport's biggest stage at the Women's College World Series. Fans decked in orange Cowgirls gear streamed through the entrance and balanced the fans covered in crimson in a sold-out USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.

Outside, scalpers huddled at the edge of parking lots. Tickets on the secondary market were going for $150 and up.

Bedlam had come to the Women's College World Series.

The Sooners wasted no time giving the fans -- half of them, anyway -- what they wanted. Jocelyn Alo sent a line drive up the middle to put two runs on the board in Oklahoma's three-run first inning.

Oklahoma State responded with a run of its own in the first, but Oklahoma pulled away in the sixth to advance to the semifinals with a 6-1 win.

In between, a 19-minute delay gave the fans a one-of-a-kind experience.

With the Sooners leading 3-1 in the top of the fifth with two runners on base, a light tower in the right-center field went dark, prompting the umpires to put the game on hold. So the Sooners started a dance party, and led their fans in a series of cheers. Half the team even ran to the outfield for a Boomer Sooner chant. Not to be out done, the OSU players held a cheering party of their own.

"We were already having a party, but once the lights went out we knew we could get the whole crowd involved," Oklahoma's Nicole Mendes said.

The delay didn't disrupt Giselle Juarez's rhythm. After giving up a leadoff single in the bottom of the fifth, Juarez struck out the next three Cowgirls and finished with 11 strikeouts in six innings.

Oklahoma got three hits, two walks and two hit-by-pitches in the sixth inning to tack on three runs.

It was an anticlimactic, if not entirely unexpected, end to a special evening. Since Patty Gasso became Oklahoma coach in 1995, the Sooners are 65-12 against the Cowgirls.

"Who knows if it will happen again?" Gasso said. "Hopefully it will. The fact that the fans came out and were enjoying it is what makes it special." -- Katie Barnes

UCLA 6, Arizona 2

The UCLA-Arizona rivalry has a mythology of its own -- 19 national titles between the schools, conference rivals, and 15 Women's College World Series meetings. The last time the teams met in Oklahoma City was in 2010 in the championship series. It's no wonder the "Game of Thrones" theme song pumped through the stadium before Friday's showdown. These are two of NCAA softball's great houses.

And what is great mythology without unlikely heroes?

In the top of the sixth inning, with the score tied 1-1, pinch hitter Malia Quarles homered on a full count to propel the Bruins to a 6-2 victory. The solo shot was Quarles' fourth of the season, three of which have come as a pinch hitter.

"I didn't swing at the two previous pitches," Quarles said. "I was like, 'I'm not striking out, so I'm going to hit this.' I saw the pitch right there and I swung as hard as I can. It felt pretty good."

During practice, Quarles hits balls out of the park all the time. She's a player coach Kelly Inouye-Perez has been watching since Quarles was 10. In the dugout, whenever Inouye-Perez turns her head toward Quarles, she's met with a pair of eyes staring right back at her letting the coach know Quarles is always ready.

"We talked about this, that I was going to call on her," Inouye-Perez said. "For her to come through in this critical moment is exactly why she's here and why she's a Bruin."

For her teammates, the moment was special. They've seen plenty of her power displays in practice, but to have her do it in Oklahoma City was something different.

"She's always been such a clutch player in this lineup," said Rachel Garcia, a two-time espnW player of the year and Friday night's winning pitcher. "But to see her come out today and step into that role lifted everyone up and took the pressure off of all of us."

Quarles' home run kicked into gear an offense that seemed stagnant since the third inning.

"We were getting on it all game," Garcia said. "We were going at balls, but they were going right to people."

In the seventh, the UCLA bats put the game out of reach with an RBI double from Aaliyah Jordan followed by a sacrifice fly from Brianna Tautalafua and some crafty baserunning from Stevie Wisz. An Arizona error in left field on another fly ball allowed two more UCLA runs to score.

Arizona did make UCLA squirm. Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza, who had homered in the third off Garcia, sent a solo home run over the fence in the seventh. Garcia has now given up nine home runs in May -- she has given up 12 all season -- and six to Arizona.

Friday night's victory is redemption for UCLA. Just three weeks ago, Arizona traveled to Los Angeles and won the series 2-1, handing Garcia her first -- and only -- loss of the season in the process. -- Katie Barnes

May 30: Upsets, homers and a bat flip

Courtesy Oklahoma State

Samantha Show hit two home runs Thursday against Kelly Barnhill at the Women's College World Series.

Samantha Show didn't just flip the bat this time around. She hammer-tossed it into her dugout.

The brashest batter at this Women's College World Series powered her upstart Cowgirls to a thrilling 2-1 victory Thursday night over fifth-seeded Florida with a pair of no-doubt, solo home runs.

One weekend after she helped eliminate defending champion Florida State with a masterful all-around performance, Show put another higher-ranked Sunshine State opponent on the brink of elimination.

In the first inning, she set the tone and sent the fourth pitch she saw well over the right-center-field wall. Known for her flashy bat flips after home runs all season, Show was restrained after her first long ball.

She was not after her second.

After watching the deciding homer for a pronounced moment, Show took the bat over her head, then flung it with full force toward the Cowgirls' dugout.

"I actually hit one of our managers," she said. "I said sorry. But after I threw it, I was like, 'Oh, crap.' It just kept going."

The brazen display drew a massive celebration from her teammates, some dodging the bat along the way. The huge Oklahoma State contingent inside Hall of Fame Stadium roared its appreciation, as well.

"Anything that happens after a home run of mine, I don't plan out," she said when asked if the hammer throw was premeditated. "Just whatever emotion I have inside me. Normally, I have so much -- that's why the dramatic bat flips happen, because it just needs to come out. I'm very emotional."

Those Show homers would prove to be the Cowgirls' only hits off Kelly Barnhill all night. But it was all they would need, as Show closed out the Gators from the circle with a complete-game performance, buoyed by a series of outstanding defensive plays from her teammates. Florida got the tying run to third base in the seventh inning. But a groundout to second clinched the win.

Oklahoma State's insurgent run set the table for an amazing atmosphere for softball in the Sooner State on Friday evening. Oklahoma's win over Alabama in the Thursday finale cemented it.

"OSU is a great team," the Sooners' Sydney Romero said. "Both of these teams being from Oklahoma ... it's awesome."

The Sooners have grown accustomed to having a home-crowd advantage in Oklahoma City, but the Cowgirls could give them a run for their money on Friday.

"You're going to have crazy fans on both sides going at it the whole game," Cowgirls senior Madi Sue Montgomery said. "It's where you want to be."

Oklahoma swept Oklahoma State in a three-game series earlier this month, outscoring the Cowgirls 16-2.

"[I'm] really excited to get another shot at them," sophomore Michaela Richbourg said.

Added Show: "It's what we dream of. One, playing in front of a crowd like that. Two, beating OU." -- Jake Trotter

Oklahoma 3, Alabama 2

Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire

A Nicole Mendes RBI triple in the sixth broke an Oklahoma-Alabama tie.

On Wednesday, Alabama coach Patrick Murphy lamented the danger of facing Oklahoma's lineup with its "tremendous power" up and down the order.

One night later, Murphy's concerns proved clairvoyant.

The Crimson Tide had top-seeded Oklahoma -- and its nation's top-scoring offense -- on the ropes Thursday in the Women's College World Series.

But Nicole Mendes, all the way down at seventh in the Sooners' batting order, belted a triple off the top of the wall in the sixth inning, knocking in pinch runner Raegan Rogers for a game-deciding RBI triple and a 3-2 Oklahoma victory.

"I didn't even know it hit the wall," Mendes said. "But I knew it was over her head."

The last time a No. 1 seed fell in the opener of a WCWS came in 2008, when Florida was toppled. The Sooners, whose bats were quiet for much of the game save for a Sydney Romero triple, were staring down extra innings with Alabama.

But Jocelyn Alo walked after fighting off three foul balls to lead off the bottom of the sixth. That allowed the speedy Rogers to step onto the base paths. And two outs later, gave Mendes the chance for the game-clinching swat.

The win ensured a Friday night showdown between the Sooners and the Cowgirls.

"Tomorrow night is a big game that puts someone in the driver's seat," Sooners coach Patty Gasso said. -- Jake Trotter

Arizona 3, Washington 1 (8 innings)

Courtesy Arizona

Jessie Harper's 29th home run gave Arizona the first run of the Women's College World Series.

Dejah Mulipola and Jessie Harper have been two of the best home run hitters in the country all season long. Nothing changed Thursday in the first game of the Women's College World Series.

Arizona rode its power to a 3-1, eight-inning win over Pac-12 rival Washington.

First it was Harper, who broke a scoreless tie in the sixth inning with her 29th home run of the season, which is the most in the nation.

After Washington answered in the bottom of that inning with a home run of its own, it looked as though momentum had swung toward the Huskies. The thing about home run hitters, though, is that they can change the complexion of a game with one swing.

Mulipola's two-run shot in the top of the eighth -- her 23rd -- gave Arizona starter Taylor McQuillin the cushion she needed against Taran Alvelo and the Huskies.

Arizona, which tied Oklahoma for the national home run lead with 108, will play UCLA on Friday night. Washington, the 2018 Women's College World Series runner-up, will play Minnesota on Saturday.

Coming into the matchup, it was Washington that seemed to have the Wildcats' number. The Huskies had traveled to Tucson at the start of May and left with a sweep. But Arizona seems to have come out stronger on the other side.

The Wildcats took two of three from UCLA to close the regular season and are perfect so far in the NCAA tournament.

"We kinda took it personal that we got swept at our home," Mulipola said. "So to get Washington in our first game and do what we did to them was just nice."

McQuillin gave up six hits but held Washington to just one run: freshman Sami Reynolds' solo homer in the bottom of the sixth. She pitched all eight innings for the Wildcats, striking out seven batters en route to her 24th win of the season. -- Katie Barnes

UCLA 7, Minnesota 2

Courtesy Don Liebig/UCLA

Bubba Nickles homered in UCLA's first at-bat of the Women's College World Series.

UCLA's Bubba Nickles was hitless in her previous eight plate appearances when she stepped into the box against Amber Fiser to lead off the bottom of the first inning in Oklahoma City.

Is there a better time to end a drought?

Nickles sent the fourth Fiser offering over the left-field wall to give UCLA a lead it would never surrender in a 7-2 victory over the Golden Gophers.

Rachel Garcia knew how to bring it home from there. The back-to-back USA Softball collegiate player of the year pitched a complete game, giving up two runs on four hits and seven strikeouts.

UCLA extended its lead to three before the Gophers scored a pair in the sixth inning to cut it to one. But Nickles threw out Allie Arneson trying to stretch an RBI single into a double for the third out of the inning. It would be the Gophers' last gasp.

Aaliyah Jordan hit a three-run homer in the sixth to keep the Bruins in control.

Fiser, who had thrown the first 673 pitches for Minnesota in the NCAA tournament, was taken out of the game one walk and one hit later. She went 5 ⅔ innings and gave up eight hits and seven runs, just three of them earned. She walked six and struck out six. -- Katie Barnes

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