OKLAHOMA CITY — Jaclyn Traina threw a one-hitter, and Peyton Grantham and Jadyn Spencer both homered in second-seeded Alabama’s 6-2 victory over defending national champion Oklahoma on Thursday night in the opening round of the Women’s College World Series.
Alabama (51-11), which beat the Sooners for the 2012 national title, will play today against Kentucky. The Southeastern Conference powers didn’t meet during the regular season or the league tournament.
Oklahoma’s only hit off Traina (24-3) was a solo home run by the third batter, Shelby Pendley. Otherwise Traina — the winning pitcher for the Crimson Tide in the decisive game of the 2012 WCWS — kept the Sooners off balance, striking out nine.
“I was a little worried after she gave up that home run to Pendley in the first,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “I thought their crowd would really get into it. Then after that, it was vintage Jaclyn Traina. I thought she did a really good job against a very good hitting team. They’re very dangerous. They take their cuts and every time they swing, you hold your breath.”
Grantham hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning to put Alabama up 4-2 and Spencer’s two-run shot in the fifth made it 6-2 and chased Oklahoma starter Kelsey Stevens (37-9).
After Pendley’s homer over the left-field fence, Alabama tied the game in the second when Kaila Hunt walked and scored on a bloop single down the right-field line by Marisa Runyon. The Crimson Tide stranded two runners.
Oklahoma (50-12) regained the lead thanks to two Alabama errors in the top of the fourth, with Erin Miller walking and eventually scoring after the Crimson Tide botched a pickoff play at first base.
But Hunt and Molly Finchter opened the bottom of the fourth with singles and one out later, Grantham delivered her fifth homer of the season, a shot to left-center field. In the fifth, Kallie Case singled to right with one out ahead of Spencer’s team-high 13th homer of the season, also to left-center.
“I just think everyone, at that point, you don’t let up,” Spencer said of her late-game mindset. “Oklahoma is a great team and you can’t really sit on a two-run lead like that. I think everyone in the lineup was just trying to pile it on and come out with a win.”
Traina walked five, but only one of those baserunners scored. Oklahoma will play Louisiana-Lafayette in an elimination game Saturday.
“We’re a better team than that,” Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso said. “I think myself and the entire team is disappointed with our offensive approach tonight. I guess the best way to say it is we were playing defense on offense. We’re better than that.”