Today was not the start Patty Gasso and the Sooners were hoping for as the reigning national champions entered the College World Series at a No. 4 seed and fell to the Washington Huskies at 2-0.
This is the first time the Sooners have lost an opening game in the WCWS since 2014, and for senior starting pitcher, Paige Parker, this was her first loss. Parker has won eight College World Series games in her career at the University of Oklahoma, but her record fell to 8-1 as the Sooners came up short in the end.
Parker was able to hold the Huskies off the scoreboard through four innings when she was replaced by LHP Paige Lowary in the top of the fifth.
Lowary not having the inning she was hoping for allowed two runs from the Huskies putting Washington in a lead they never gave up.
“I guess it was just not my day,” Lowary said. “Paige really had my back today, which was awesome. We’ve all had games where we’ve kind of struggled this season, and another pitcher comes in to shut it down, so it’s a really big testament to her.”
Parker returned to pitch for the Sooners in the top of the sixth with zero outs and bases full of Huskies. She picked up three straight outs leaving Washington players stranded. Parker finished the day with six strikeouts to add on to her 152 career K’s as a Sooner.
Freshman starting pitcher for Washington, Gabbie Plain, was brilliant keeping the Sooners scoreless through seven innings although she recorded only one strikeout.
“She’s a very good pitcher,” Patty Gasso said. “She’s tough; good in the strike zone. She’s very poised and did a very good job.”
The Sooners faced controversy in the sixth inning with two runners on 2nd and 3rd and junior Shay Knighten up to the plate. Knighten blasted a strong pop fly to right field where Trysten Melhart made a catch to end OU’s run that some would call a Washington game saver; others would call it questionable.
“She made a good catch whether it was a catch or not,” Knighten said.”I did what I could, and that’s just how it ended up.”
Head coach of the Sooners, Patty Gasso, said she wasn’t able to see the catch head on, but was told the catch was 100 percent fair.
“It was hard for me to see from where I was,” Gasso said. “But anytime Coach [Melyssa] Lombardi goes running out to something, I know that she sees something that I don’t. They [officials] said it was a 100 percent clean catch right to me, and on the transfer is when the ball came out.”
Junior Taran Alvelo relieved Plain in the bottom of the sixth inning and was able to seal the win for Washington with back-to-back strikeouts in the bottom of the seventh.
The outcome may not have been what the Sooners were hoping for, but Paige Parker took the mic in postgame to reassure her team would be fine and come back stronger for the next game.
“Losing is never fun,” Parker said. “I know how much fight our team has, and how much heart we have. I fully believe this team can do anything. Just having faith and trust in each other, I know we’re going to come out strong in our next game and bounce back from this.”
The Sooners will be back in action at 11 a.m. on Saturday to face the Arizona Sun Devils as they look to put the first loss behind them and power forward in the race for the national title.