It had been 18 games and 1,827 days of futility against Oklahoma, and twice, it came down a matter of inches.
It wasn’t that the Sooners were worlds of talent better than Texas. But the top-ranked Oklahoma squad showed exactly why it has been five years since the program has fallen to Texas. They came up with clutch plays to end a pair of close games at Red & Charline McCombs Field, then displayed their powerful lineup to close out the sweep over the No. 11 Longhorns with a 9-2 win on Saturday.
“They’ve been on the big stage a lot longer than we have,” Texas head coach Mike White said. “They’re just a little more seasoned than us. … We can practice all we want, and trust me, we probably practice the same stuff they do, but they’ve just been on the bigger stage longer.”
In the series’ second game, the Longhorns threatened to halt Oklahoma’s dominance in its tracks. Texas manufactured a run in the sixth inning to tie the game up at two runs apiece and send it to extra innings.
The eighth inning quickly turned into chaos. Oklahoma plated one run on a sacrifice fly. Thinking the runner may have not touched the plate, the Texas dugout pleaded for the Longhorns to go back and tag her. Second baseman Janae Jefferson took notice and extended the play by attempting to go back and make the tag. The Sooner runner on third made a heads-up play and ran home as well, and both runners were ruled safe.
Trailing 4-2, Texas got two quick outs in the bottom of the inning, but then picked up two base hits. Jefferson laid down a bunt and the Oklahoma infielder overthrew the first baseman, scoring the runner from second. Outfielder MK Tedder was sent around from first but was thrown out at the plate, ending the game. White tried to argue for obstruction on the play, but to no avail, as the Longhorns fell 4-3.
“Either way, it would’ve been a close play, obstruction or no obstruction,” Tedder said after the loss. “I was just trying to give it my best shot.”
The wacky ending to game two followed a game one loss in which two of Oklahoma’s runs came in a mistake-filled fifth inning for the Longhorns. An error and two other defensive misplays gave the Sooners a sliver of light that they jumped all over, spoiling pitcher Miranda Elish’s excellent start and taking the 3-1 win.
“We’re right there,” outfielder Kaitlyn Washington said. “Maybe one error away from being where they’re at. We’ve just got to turn the page.”
With pitcher Shea O’Leary sidelined with an ankle injury, Elish was forced to make appearances in all three games. In the weekend’s final matchup, the fatigue of both Elish and pitcher Brooke Bolinger was evident, as the Longhorns fell 9-2 with a limited bullpen.
“It hurt a lot,” White said. “(Oklahoma was) the better team, there’s no doubt about that. If we had more options with those other players, that would’ve helped out.”
A record 3,903 people filled up McCombs Field over the weekend’s three games. Rare appearances were even made by the Longhorn Band and Bevo XV. But someone must have forgotten to tell Oklahoma. The country’s best team took care of business, and the Longhorns’ losing streak will continue until the next meeting.