Alabama Captures First National Title


It took 3 games, the last of which was hampered by numerous rain delays, but the Crimson Tide eventually prevailed to capture their first NCAA national title.

Alabama started their WCWS campaign with a 5-3 victory over familiar conference foe Tennessee, who were handed their second and final loss by the Oregon Ducks. Alabama then met with Arizona State and won 2-1, moving on to face the top-ranked California Golden Bears. Alabama won 5-2, knocking California out of the title hunt and propelling themselves into the final series.

The Crimson Tide were destined to meet the Oklahoma Sooners, who were playing with the seemingly huge advantage of controlling to crowd. Oklahoma began with a 5-1 victory over South Florida, and went on to meet top-ranked California. Keilani Ricketts, the junior pitcher for the Sooners, struck out 16 Golden Bears and drove in a run as she led her team to a 3-0 win over California. Oklahoma’s third and final win came over the Sun Devils of Arizona State by a score of 5-3.

Entering the finals, both Alabama and Oklahoma were relying on stellar pitching from their all-star players. Jackie Traina, a sophomore for the Crimson Tide, had not lost a game in all of her collegiate career. Ricketts had been named the Big 12 Player of the Year and broke the Sooners’ record for career strikeouts. Backed by heavy-hitting offenses, both teams were ready for a tough career.

Oklahoma took Game 1 of the series by a score of 4-1. Ricketts struck out 12 and only allowed 5 hits in the win. Not only was this Traina’s first lost as a pitcher, but the Crimson Tide were now one loss away from losing their chance at the title. Alabama bounced back quickly, winning 8-6 to force a Game 3 for the championship. The once-composed Ricketts allowed all 8 of the runs, surprisingly without giving up a hit. This led to a series-clinching, winner-take-all game 3 on Wednesday night. Thunderstorms were rampant in the Oklahoma City area, and the game was pushed back over 2 hours. The game finally began around 10:00 EST.

After three innings, the Sooners seemed to be in cruise control. Ricketts had blasted a solo home run and was giving Alabama nothing as Oklahoma led 3-0. As the fourth inning began, the rain was beginning to pick up. The officials had determined previously that, regardless of weather conditions, the game would be played to its completion.

With two outs in the fourth, Ricketts was beginning to slip. She was walking batters and had to take heat off of her pitch in order to avoid losing her grip on the ball. When she gave up a run, the Oklahoma coach immediately left the dugout and convinced the umpires to temporarily suspend the game to talk over the conditions of play. Determined not to lose the sudden change in momentum, the entire Alabama team left the dugout and began to lead their fans in cheers. They had shaken the Sooners’ confidence, and it showed almost immediately after play was resumed.

Oklahoma committed errors in both pitching and fielding, allowing 3 more runs and giving Alabama a 4-3 lead after four innings. Each team scored another run, but the Sooners could not escape their collapse and eventually fell 5-4 to the Crimson Tide. This win marked not only the first softball national title in Alabama history, but also the first one captured by a team from the SEC conference.

Tim Ahrens is a writer for Autzen Zoo. Follow the site on Facebook and Twitter.