Tennessee press conference following losing the WCWS
OKLAHOMA CITY — The game for the ages was Monday night.
The game for the title wasn’t nearly as dramatic.
No. 1 seed Oklahoma didn’t need any extra-inning magic in beating Tennessee 4-0 Tuesday night to clinch the program’s second softball national title before a capacity crowd of 8,527 at Hall of Fame Stadium.
“Oklahoma, they are an amazing team,’’ said Tennessee co-head coach Ralph Weekly.
“I spent nine years with our national team and I think the Oklahoma team would beat most of the other countries we played, even the great ones.’’
Weekly thought Oklahoma beat a pretty good team Tuesday in what proved to be the finale of the championship round of the Women’s College World Series.
Tennessee (52-12) played to the brink of a national title for the second time, matching the runner-up finish from 2007.
The high-water mark was a 3-0 lead in the top of the 11th inning Monday in the championship series opener. Oklahoma was resilient enough to rally for a 5-3 win.
“This is a great team,’’ Weekly said of the Lady Vols, “a team that can play with anybody anytime.
“Except the last night or so. Oklahoma is an unbelievable team.’’
“I still think we were in it last night and if we had another chance, I still think we’d be in it tomorrow.’’
There is no tomorrow, no Game 3. The beginning of the end came when Keilani Ricketts launched a three-run home run in the third to stake the top-seed Sooners to a 3-0 lead.
The Lady Vols still had time to fight a delaying action, but Oklahoma (57-4) was too strong.
Ricketts, the two-time national player of the year, was the pitching hero for Oklahoma on Monday. This time she just used her bat as the designated player, driving in all four Sooner runs.
Michelle Gascoigne (19-3) picked up the victory, forcing Tennessee to digest only its fourth shutout in 64 games.
Oklahoma press conference after winning the 2013 WCWS
The Lady Vols expected Ricketts to go again, but Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso felt Gascoigne — who hadn’t started in postseason play — was up to the moment.
“Keilani threw 188 pitches last night, that had something to do with it,’’ Gasso said, “but Michelle has been such a huge part of getting our team to this point.’’
Gascoigne, a lefty, stifled Tennessee’s bats with a three-hitter. She allowed early singles to Kat Dotson and Madison Shipman. Then Ricketts’ home run just made her tougher.
Once they trailed 3-0, only one Lady Vol reached base in the final five innings — Melissa Davin on a fifth-inning single.
Ivy Renfroe (22-5) made her second start of the WCWS, but never got in any kind of groove.
She walked Brianna Turang to open the third. Then, Lauren Chamberlain, who hit the 12th-inning walk-off home run Monday, singled.
A sacrifice bunt got the first out. But then Ricketts’ 15th home run sent the pro-Sooner crowd into rapture.
It also sent Ivy Renfroe to the dugout. Ellen Renfroe returned, less than 24 hours after her 180-pitch heartbreaker in Game 1.
Oklahoma added a seventh-inning run off Ellen Renfroe.
Tennessee juggled the batting order Tuesday, to no avail.
Lauren Gibson moved to leadoff and Raven Chavanne dropped to the third spot. Chavanne came into the game hitting .167 in the WCWS. She was 0-for-9 against Oklahoma in the championship series, striking out six times.
“We were making in-game adjustments,’’ Weekly said. “She just pitched a great game.’’
Ellen Renfroe, Gibson and Shipman made the Sooner-heavy all-tournament team.
It was the final game for six seniors: All-Americans Shipman, Gibson and Chavanne, plus Ivy Renfroe, Melissa Brown and Whitney Hammond.
“To end my career on this field is amazing,’’ said Gibson. “Obviously I wanted to end it with a national championship.’’