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OU Softball: Alo's blast delivers Sooners, sets up one more game for World Series crown

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WCWS Oklahoma Florida St Softball

Oklahoma’s Jocelyn Alo, center, celebrates with teammates Tiare Jennings, left, and Kinzie Hansen after her home run against Florida State in the sixth inning of the second game of the NCAA Women’s College World Series softball championship series Wednesday in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Jocelyn Alo stepped to the plate with the weight of Oklahoma’s season on her shoulders in the top of the sixth inning.

Tiare Jennings had just safely reached first, thanks to a throwing error by Florida State shortstop Josie Muffley. Alo represented the go-ahead run for OU, which was down to its last six outs.

If there was a perfect player to match the moment for the Sooners, it was Alo. The national player of the year and the nation’s home run leader, Alo has led OU’s powerhouse offense all season.

The Sooner faithful inside Hall of Fame Stadium recognized the moment, too. OU fans rose to their feet when Alo came to the plate, hoping she’d deliver.

On the third pitch she saw, Alo took a ball low and away and drove it deep over the wall in right-center field, changing the game with one swing, the biggest swing of what became the Sooners’ 6-2 victory Wednesday night at Hall of Fame Stadium.

“I knew I was feeling good out there the whole game,” Alo said. “So it was just a matter of staying calm and trying to hit a pitch hard. And I saw it. And I smacked it.”

OU went on to put up three more runs in the frame, forcing a decisive Game 3 in the Women’s College World Series championship series.

Much went right for OU that hadn’t gone right the night before.

Giselle Juarez offered another strong performance in the circle for OU. After giving up a two-run homer to the third batter she faced, Juarez locked in and threw a complete game, notching six strikeouts to pick up her fourth win of the tournament.

The Sooners were errorless in the field, and put a run on the board before the fourth inning, thanks to a tape-measure solo home run from Jana Johns.

Alo’s home run signified more than any of that.

It broke records.

It was the 159th home run the Sooners have hit this season and her 33rd, breaking the NCAA single season team home run record set by Hawaii in 2010.

A Hawaii native, Alo flashed a shaka hand sign, as she always does, before raising her hands to fly home in what has become OU’s signature home run pose this season.

The hit also brought OU to 630 total runs scored, another NCAA record. The previous record was set by Arizona in 1995. By the end of the night, it was 633.

Above all, it gave the Sooners the life they needed, giving them their first lead since the championships series began.

“It’s the difference in the game, without question,” OU coach Patty Gasso said. “...But offensively we were not having a lot of success … We without question needed that. And she was the spark throughout the game, without question.”

The floodgates opened after that home run. The Sooners followed Alo with four straight singles to tack on two more runs and Nicole Mendes lined a sacrifice fly to left field to score Alo in the seventh inning, adding another insurance run.

OU (55-4) was always going to need to do what it does best in order to beat FSU (49-12-1) — hit — and no Sooner does it better than Alo. She leads OU in batting average, home runs and slugging percentage.

“She is very, very unfazed by anything,” Gasso said. “And she believes that she can beat any pitcher, anytime, anyplace … She’s very, very prideful of her hitting. And it bleeds into our team.”

It will need to bleed into the Sooners’ lineup again today.

The Sooners need one more win to capture the program’s fifth national championship.

Clay Horning

405 366-3526

Follow me @clayhorning

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