Tennessee press conference following Game One loss to Oklahoma
OKLAHOMA CITY — They had what would have been one of the great wins in program history yanked away from them Monday night by indomitable Oklahoma.
Thirty minutes later, Tennessee’s Lady Vols had a plan to deal with the Sooners’ 5-3 win on Lauren Chamberlain’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th inning.
“Just flush it,’’ said senior Raven Chavanne. “Tomorrow is a brand new day.
“Anything can happen.’’
Tuesday is not only a brand new day. It’s Game Two of the Women’s College World Series championship series.
Top-seed Oklahoma (56-4) will try to clinch the national title with a sweep in the best-of-three series. ESPN has the broadcast at 8 p.m.
Tennessee (52-11) will be trying to force a Game Three on Wednesday (TV: ESPN, 8 p.m.).
Those circumstances were very nearly reversed.
The Lady Vols broke open a scoreless game with Madison Shipman’s three-run home run in the 11th.
A 3-0 lead wouldn’t stand up this night.
The relentless Sooners tied it with three runs in the bottom of the inning, as a pro-Oklahoma crowd of 8,300 roared its approval.
Tennessee went quietly in the top of the 12th. Not so the Sooners.
Brianna Turang led off the Oklahoma 12th with a double and then Chamberlain sent an Ellen Renfroe pitch high into the air, just inside the left-field foul pole, her 30th home run of the year.
The longest game in UT history and the longest game in the championship round of the WCWS was over with a stunning reversal of emotions.
“It was the greatest game I’ve ever been a part of,’’ said Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso. “Man, I’ve never seen anything like it.’’
For 10 innings, two of the nation’s most powerful offenses were humbled by a pair of brilliant pitchers.
Two-time national player of the year Keilani Ricketts (35-1) of Oklahoma blinked first.
Shipman’s home run to dead center field in the 11th followed singles by Kat Dotson and Lauren Gibson and put UT up 3-0.
Then it was Renfroe’s turn to blink in the bottom of the 11th.
She struck out Shelby Pendley, her 13th K of the game, but then Ricketts hit a towering pop-up that eluded the All-American Gibson’s glove. Ricketts ended up on second.
Brittany Williams’ double scored Ricketts. After a second out, Renfroe was one strike from victory.
She didn’t get it. Destinee Martinez tripled to make it 3-2. Then Callie Parsons doubled to the wall, easily scoring Martinez to knot the score.
Parsons was thrown out at third on the play.
Heartbreak was to follow in the 12th for Renfroe (19-5), who had pitched an 11-inning shutout against N.C. State in the Knoxville regional, a 1-0 masterpiece against Washington here Saturday.
“We’ve just got to congratulate Oklahoma in a situation like this,’’ said UT co-head coach Ralph Weekly.
“I just told our kids this is not over yet. We’re still very much alive.’’
Renfroe was exceptional for so long. She had allowed only four hits through 10 innings against a lineup that has run-ruled five of its previous eight NCAA tournament foes.
Now she might have to do it again Tuesday and possibly Wednesday, although sister Ivy Renfroe is rested and available.
“It’s just emotionally draining,’’ Ellen Renfroe said. “Physically, we’ve trained for this all year.
“More than anything, it’s just getting ready mentally. Like Raven said, we have to flush it and move on.’’
Ricketts had a no-hitter until Hannah Akamine singled to lead off the sixth inning. Tennessee’s second hit didn’t come until the 11th inning rally.
Chavanne was 0-for-6 in the leadoff spot and struck out four times.
“We’ll stay up all night if we have to,’’ Weekly said, “For us the key is figuring out how to do better at the plate.
“I think tomorrow will be about offense. Whoever finds their is offense is going to be successful.’’
Oklahoma press conference after Game One win over Tennessee
Most, Least: Oklahoma came into the championship series having scored the most runs — 82 — in the NCAA tournament. Tennessee came in having allowed the fewest — 8. Tennessee had scored 37 runs; Oklahoma had allowed 13.
Head to USA Camp: Chavanne and Gibson are among 32 invitees to the camp to determine the USA national team. Gibson has been a member the past two summers. The camp is next week here at the ASA Hall of Fame complex.