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Alabama beats Oklahoma to win NCAA women's softball title
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) ' Jackie Traina threw a five-hitter and delivered a key RBI single, and Alabama became the first Southeastern Conference team to win a NCAA softball title, beating Oklahoma 5-4 in the final game of a best-of-three series that ended early Thursday.
Traina gave up three home runs ' two to Lauren Chamberlain, including one in the seventh inning ' but fanned her Oklahoma counterpart, Keilani Ricketts, to end the game.
Alabama (60-8) took advantage of Ricketts' wildness to score four runs in the fourth inning. The Crimson Tide overcame an early 3-0 deficit in a game delayed almost three hours at the start due to steady rain on Wednesday night.
Oklahoma (54-10) had won 12 straight games, including the opening game of the championship series, before losing two in a row. Ricketts struck out seven, raising her tournament total to 64, tying for third-best in Women's World College Series history.
The win capped an emotional season for Alabama coach Patrick Murphy, who left after last season to take the coaching job at LSU, only to return to Alabama days later.
Ricketts put Oklahoma ahead in the second, curling a leadoff homer just inside the right-field foul pole. Chamberlain followed in the third with a two-out homer to left field to give the Sooners a 3-0 lead.
Rain started falling before the fourth inning and Ricketts (37-9) began struggling. After throwing 10 balls in the first three innings, she had 15 ' including four wild pitches ' in the fourth.
Kaila Hunt opened the fourth by singling to left for Alabama, then scored on three wild pitches. After the third one, Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso complained to the umpires that Ricketts couldn't properly grip the ball and they delayed the game 13 minutes ' over Murphy's protests.
When the game resumed, Amanda Locke delivered a two-out RBI single and Courtney Conley followed with a double to center field that tied the game. A throwing error by Oklahoma shortstop Jessica Vest allowed Jazlyn Lunceford to reach base and Conley to score, putting the Crimson Tide up 4-3.
Traina (42-3) walked Chamberlain and hit Ricketts with a pitch with two outs in the fifth, but retired Jessica Shults on a fly ball that right fielder Lunceford caught at the wall. Alabama added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth as Jennifer Fenton reached on a leadoff bunt single and scored on a RBI single to right field by Traina.
Chamberlain's second home run, a two-out, solo shot over the right-centerfield wall, was her 30th of the season and the 102nd for the Sooners.
Traina had six strikeouts to end the season with 360, an Alabama single-season record.