Gasso gets wish, OU back in WCWS
Patty Gasso got what she wished for - a berth to the Women's College World Series.
The Oklahoma softball coach celebrated her 55th birthday as the Sooners bested Auburn in its own super regional, 5-2, at Jane B. Moore Field on Saturday, taking both games in the best-of-three series. The wins marks the 11th time sixth in the past seven seasons Gasso and the OU softball program have punched their ticket to ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
After defeating Auburn in the national title last year, Oklahoma is now seeking its third national championship in the last five years.
"I'm enjoying coaching more than I have in a long time," Gasso said. "These athletes are eager to learn. They want to be good. They love to play everyday. Practice is a joy. It's really been special, this journey that these guys have gone on."
For the second-straight game, Nicole Pendley provided the spark the Sooners needed to get past the Tigers.
The junior popped her team-leading 16th home run of the season in the second inning to give OU a 3-0 cushion. However, the Sooners recorded only one hit through the next three innings, allowing Auburn to close the gap.
A home run from Casey McCrackin in the third and a Kasey A home run from Casey McCrackin in the third and a Kasey Cooper RBI single in the fifth cut the Tigers' deficit to one run. Cooper nearly tied the game with a home run of her own in the third, but Macey Hatfield made a leaping catch at the left-field wall to evade the potential disaster.
Although she allowed almost two homers in one inning, pitcher Paige Lowary mainted her composure on the mound, which did not surprise Gasso.
"Paige Lowary has waited her entire life for an opportunity like this," Gasso said. "It's important to put Paige in those tough situations because that has become her role. She has to come in and stop the bleeding. It became kind of a no-brainer for us."