OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma's defense kept things close until the Sooners' prolific offense came to life late Thursday night with a pair of backbreaking home runs to beat rival Texas 10-5 and claim its second consecutive national championship.
The Sooners have now won six Women's College World Series under head coach Patty Gasso, including four of the past seven. The 2020 postseason was canceled because of COVID-19.
Oklahoma set a record with 17 home runs during the WCWS, breaking its own mark of 15 from last season. It also set a record for total runs scored during the WCWS with 64.
The question became obvious even before the confetti was shot into the night sky to celebrate the win: Was this the best softball team of all time? The squad led the country in batting average, home runs and ERA. It lost only three games.
While her teammates wouldn't take part in the debate, Oklahoma slugger Jocelyn Alo was happy to give her take.
"I would say with me being a senior," she said, "I think this is the best team."
Gasso said the answer was best left to others who want to break down the stats, but she wound up coughing up an opinion anyway.
"I could rank them very, very high, if not the highest," she said, "because everything they do looks so easy to me, and they do it so fast."
It certainly played out that way in the deciding game against Texas, which jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and held Oklahoma scoreless until the fourth inning, when the hits started coming in bunches.
Oklahoma center fielder Jayda Coleman helped keep the score close early when she reached over the fence and brought back a would-be two-run homer in the top of the first. Not to be outdone, Sooners shortstop Grace Lyons had her own brilliant moment in the field later when she plucked a ground ball deep in the hole to her right, dropped to one knee and flicked it to second base where Tiare Jennings tapped the bag and threw to first to complete the double play.
Then, after scratching together two runs and tying the game in the fourth, Oklahoma's bats finally came alive. An Alyssa Brito double down the left field line gave the Sooners a one-run lead. Four pitches later, Kinzie Hansen hit a three-run homer over the left field fence to break the game open. It was Hansen's first home run since April 16.
After a Jennings sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth, Lyons hit a three-run homer to extend the lead to eight.
"Our pitching with Jordy [Bahl] was hanging on, but the defense is what really created this momentum for us over and over until we could find a way to get on the board," Gasso said. "Once we did, it just started to open up. Just timely hitting, clutch hitting when we needed it."
Alo, the all-time leader in career home runs, had a rare night in which she didn't send a ball over the fence or drive in a single run.
During a 16-1 blowout in Game 1 of the championship series, Alo hit two home runs to bring her total to five for the WCWS.
A fifth-year senior, Alo will play professionally but has not said whether that will be in the Women's Professional Fastpitch league or Athletes Unlimited, where she was drafted No. 1 overall in May.
She ends her final season with a .515 batting average, 34 home runs and 85 RBIs.
"Man, she loves the Sooners," Gasso said of Alo. "She loves the state. She loves everything about OU, and she just wanted to feed the OU fan base everything that she had. She left it. She left it on that field, and she left it in the history books forever."