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OU Softball: Not themselves, Sooners in another World Series hole after waiting too long to respond

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OU v Florida State Game 1

Oklahoma’s Kinzie Hansen tags out Florida State’s Elizabeth Mason at home plate Tuesday during the Sooners’ game against Florida State at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Kinzie Hansen was trying to pick off Florida State’s Cassidy Davis at second base when she launched the ball into the outfield in the fourth inning.

Hansen’s error allowed Davis to reach third base and was the beginning of a series of events that propelled the Sooners to a Women’s College World Series championship series opening 8-4 loss to the Seminoles.

A double from Kalei Harding — who hit a two-run home run the inning before — and two more run-scoring singles snowballed the inning into a five-run affair in FSU’s favor.

The Sooners dug themselves into a seven-run deficit over the first 3 1/2 innings — the largest OU has faced this season — and it proved too much to overcome.

Yet again, the Sooners got off to another slow start.

Across six games at the Women’s College World Series, OU has notched just 13 hits total in the first three innings of play. In their last two games, the Sooners haven’t recorded a hit at all in the first three frames.

OU waited until the fourth inning against FSU (49-11-1) — already down by seven runs — to strike. Hansen and Nicole Mendes smacked back-to-back home runs to put OU on the board.

“You can see that sometimes hitters are trying to do too much,” OU coach Patty Gasso said. “I just … at one time Grace Green was at home plate as the tying run. So do we want a faster start? Sure we do. Is it that easy? Not really.”

A double from Mackenzie Donihoo in the bottom of the sixth brought home two more runs, but that was all OU put across.

“I felt the momentum in our favor,” Mendes said. “But we just took too long to respond.

“I think this team, whenever we lose we don’t lose again.”

That’s proven true thus far this season.

OU’s only other losses have come at the hands of Georgia, Oklahoma State and James Madison. But no team has beaten the Sooners twice. In fact, OU (54-4) has gone on to beat each of those teams at least twice.

“I’d say we need to come out and flip the switch,” Donihoo said. “As [Mendes] said, it’s hard to beat us twice. Tomorrow it’s all or nothing and we’ve got to flip the switch.”

OU is now back where it began the tournament, with its back against the wall. The Sooners’ seemed comfortable in the four elimination games they played to get to the championship series. They will have to get comfortable again, now down 1-0 to FSU for the national championship.

OU has played in six championship series since the best 2-of-3 format was introduced in 2005. Before this season, the Sooners had only dropped the series opener once when UCLA beat them 16-3 in 2019 and went on to win the national title with a win the next day.

“They’re not happy right now,” Gasso said. “I know that. But that’s a good thing. That’s a good thing. It’s going to show our character and our style and who we really are as a team and as a program. I’m looking forward to it.

“I think you’re going to see a different team with a different approach and much better play.”

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