WCWS 2019: Oklahoma's 'Big Play Shay' Knighten lives up to her name in loss

Shay Knighten hits a solo home run with two out in the seventh inning to tie Oklahoma with UCLA at 4-4.


OKLAHOMA CITY -- When Oklahoma senior Shay Knighten stepped up to the plate in the top of the seventh inning Tuesday to face Rachel Garcia, her team was trailing UCLA by a run and down to its final out at the Women's College World Series.

They call her "Big Play Shay" for a reason.

Knighten took a 2-1 pitch from Garcia and lined it over the left-center field wall to tie the game. As she rounded second, she lifted both arms into the air.

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Shay Knighten has had clutch moments before. Her walk-off home run -- in the 17th inning -- beat Florida in Game 1 of the 2017 Women's College World Series, which the Sooners went on to win.

At third, Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso fist-pumped and ran a few steps alongside the infielder.

"I was fired up and I don't really show too much emotion," Gasso said. "It was a pleasure to do it."

In the circle, Garcia turned to her teammates and laughed as the Sooners rushed to home plate to mob their hero.

"Shay and I go way back," Garcia said. "I think she knew what I was giving her."

As a sophomore in the 2017 WCWS, Knighten hit the game-winning, three-run home run in the 17th inning in Game 1 against Florida.

As a freshman in 2016, Knighten hit a walk-off, three-run home run against Alabama in the eighth inning of the Sooners' first game in Oklahoma City.

On this night, though, the miracle became a mirage.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Bruins' Kinsley Washington sent a base hit to the outfield to score the winning run, delivering a championship to UCLA and ending Oklahoma's season -- and Knighten's legendary career.

"She's been a star on this stage," Gasso said. "Understanding what these seniors have done, it's absolutely crazy. This is the best senior class we've ever had."

Among all the moments Knighten has had in Oklahoma City, this one was up there as one of her favorites. Even though it didn't result in a victory for Oklahoma, it was still special.

"To see Sooner Nation, my teammates, and everyone there just so happy and so excited, it has to rank at the top," Knighten said. "To finish my career the way I did, I'm just very proud."

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