The stands were almost filled to capacity. The crowd was yelling at the top of its collective lungs.
One team’s season hinged on one game as it tried to overcome a touchdown deficit with aluminum bats.
This year’s Women’s College World Series (WCWS) has been intense and exciting.
The media has discussed the parity of the game often in recent years, and this year’s bracket provided an example. The Pac 12 conference dominated the tournament’s early years, but Oregon was its lone representative this season. The SEC sent three teams — Florida, Kentucky and Alabama. The Big XII saw Oklahoma and Baylor qualify, Florida State played into the bracket from the ACC and Louisiana Lafayette represented the Sun Belt Conference.
Nearly every game has provided its share of suspense, but as of press time none has equaled the extra-inning thriller last Saturday, which pitted Kentucky against Baylor for the right to advance to the national semifinals.
The Lady Bears trailed by a 7-0 score when they stepped to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning and began an improbable rally that led to an 8-7 win and earned Baylor one more game in Oklahoma City.
Kentucky, which had limited the Lady Bears’ offense and chased Baylor’s ace pitcher from the circle after just 1.2 innings, had a 3-0 lead after two frames and increased its advantage with two runs in the fourth and two more in the sixth.
The Lady Wildcats won 50 games this season, which stands as the most wins in program history, and made their first trip to the WCWS.
Kentucky launched three home runs during the game and appeared to be headed to the semifinals against Florida, but the Lady Bears had other plans.
Baylor scored three runs in the sixth inning and sat the Lady Wildcats down quickly in the top of the seventh to begin the four-run seventh inning that would give it new life.
The Lady Bears homered to cut the deficit to 7-4, and an RBI double shrunk Kentucky’s lead to 7-5 with two outs.
With one strike left in its season, Baylor drove home the tying runs on a double to the wall.
Another double put a runner in scoring position in the Baylor eighth, and the winning run scored on an error after the Lady Bears laid down a sacrifice bunt.
The comeback catapulted Baylor into the semifinals where it was eliminated after a 6-3 loss against Florida.
The win put the Lady Gators into the finals after they sailed through the bracket undefeated. Florida run-ruled Baylor its first game of the tournament 11-0, which was the widest margin of victory in a WSCS game this season as of press time. Florida then shut out Oregon, which was the tournament’s
No. 1 seed, 4-0 and met Alabama in first game of the national finals Monday night.
The Crimson Tide was the No. 2 seed in the tournament, and also played through the bracket without a blemish.
Alabama, which won its first national championship in 2012, defeated defending champion Oklahoma 6-2 in its first game. The Tide handed Kentucky its first loss of the tournament by a 2-0 margin to advance to the semifinals where it shut out Oregon 2-0 on the strength of a fifth-inning home run and an RBI single after a close play at the plate.
The win set up the first all-SEC final in WCWS history.
Florida dominated the Crimson Tide in the first game of the championship series with a four-hit 5-0 shutout win.
After press time Tuesday the teams played game two, which Alabama had to win to keep Florida from its first national title and force a decisive game three.
Florida won the second game 6-3 and swept the championship series for its first national title.
The WCWS gives college softball the spotlight, and this year the teams have put on a great show.