By CORBIN HOSLER
OKLAHOMA CITY —
The opening meeting between Tennessee and Oklahoma in the Women’s College World Series was expected to be a pitcher’s duel. And it didn’t disappoint.
In fact, both were so good, it was a record-setting game. It was the longest championship-series game ever played in the World Series.
USA Softball Player of the Year Keilani Ricketts started the game hot for OU, striking out the side in the first. Tennessee’s Ellen Renfroe didn’t duplicate the feat, but she did sit the Sooners down in order.
That was just the beginning. Rickets took a perfect game into the fifth inning before allowing a walk, which she then followed up with two more before getting a double play to end the inning. She then lost the no-hitter in the sixth inning when the Vols’ Hannah Akamine singled up the middle to lead off the frame.
Renfroe was just as impressive, working out of several jams including a bases-loaded situation in extra innings.
Woods throws out first pitch: As part of “Strikeout Cancer” night at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium on Monday, Oklahoma football player Austin Woods threw the ceremonial first pitch to open the championship round of the Women’s College World Series.
Woods, an offensive lineman who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in the fall, stayed with the team throughout his treatment and practiced with nearly full time. The junior from Rockwall, Texas, threw the first pitch Monday directly into catcher Jessica Shults’ glove behind home plate.
Attendance record set: There were 8,300 fans at Monday night’s ballgame, eclipsing the previous record for highest attendance at the start of the championship series.
The single-session attendance record was broken multiple times throughout the weekend, including a record 9,587 Saturday night. Five of the seven highest-attended sessions have come this season.
Pendley’s struggles continue: Oklahoma sophomore Shelby Pendley has struggled in her first Women’s College World Series appearance, and things didn’t improve on Monday.
Pendley, the Big 12 Player of the Year after transferring to OU from Arizona in the fall, went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts against Tennessee. She has just one hit in four World Series games.