NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Kinzie Hansen hit a dramatic, tying three-run home run in the seventh inning, Tiare Jennings led off the ninth inning with a solo blast and Oklahoma set an NCAA record with its 48-straight win on Saturday, a thrilling 8-7 decision over Clemson to win the Norman Super Regional.
The two-time defending national champions were down to their final strike twice after the Tigers had rallied to take a 7-4 lead into the final inning.
Rylie Boone singled to open the seventh and with two outs Haley Lee singled to right on a 1-2 count. Hansen then belted an 0-2 pitch over the wall in left.
Jennings took the first pitch in the ninth to deep center to send the six-time defending national champion Sooners to their seventh-straight Women’s College World Series (not counting the COVID-cancelled 2020 season) and push them past Arizona’s winning streak set over two seasons in 1996-97.
“The way these guys respond,” coach Patt Gasso said, pausing as she choked up. “They’re great. I think everybody expects that we should always win. The amount of pressure is pretty insurmountable, and they keep standing up to it. … It’s just new heroes all the time and it’s just so fun to be a part of them.”
It was the first extra-inning game for Oklahoma (56-1) since the second game of the season on Feb. 9. The Sooners’ only loss was 4-3 at Baylor on Feb. 19.
After Clemson scored seven-straight runs to take a 7-4 lead in the fifth inning, Oklahoma pitchers retired 12-straight batters before Jordy Bahl (18-1) gave up a bloop single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. The Big 12 Pitcher of the Year went three innings for the win.
Clemson (49-12), seeded 16th in just its fourth-year of play, lost the first game 9-2 but bounced back to score the most runs against Oklahoma this season. Two-time ACC Player of the Year Valerie Cagle (25-8) took the loss.
Solo home runs by Jayda Coleman, the Big 12 Player of the Year, and Jennings, the first two batters of the game, and Alyssa Brito helped the Sooners lead 4-0 in the fourth.
Maddie Moore got the Tigers back in the game with a three-run shot in the bottom of the fourth and McKenzie Clark tied it was a blast to center field in the fifth. Clemson used that momentum to add two more runs, one scoring on a bases-loaded walk.
The game was also the last at Marita Haynes Field, where the Sooners were 546-62-1 in its 25-year history, including 113-2 over the last five years. The team moves to Love’s Field in 2024.