Texas storms back in winner-take-all game against Oklahoma State, reaches program’s 1st Women’s College World Series finals

Christina Huang, Associate Sports Editor

Texas softball was unseeded in the NCAA Tournament. After eliminating ranked teams in  Washington, Arkansas and now Oklahoma State, Texas continued its improbable postseason run, becoming the first unseeded team to ever reach the finals of the Women’s College World Series.

The Longhorns needed not one, but two wins over Oklahoma State on Monday night, and thanks to lights-out pitching in the first game and an improbable comeback in the second, they did just that with their season on the line. 

Even Texas head coach Mike White was shocked at how his team’s season has panned out. The Longhorns got off to a rocky start, dropping every single game they played in the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational in February. Texas was also winless in four matchups against the Cowgirls this season prior to Monday night’s two wins. 

“This is unbelievable,” White said. “It’s gonna sink in sooner or later, but it’s really not sinking in right now.”

Game 1 went smoothly for the Horns, with Estelle Czech pitching a shutout in a 5–0 win. The sophomore didn’t allow any runs in her first WCWS appearance Sunday against Arizona, earning her the start Monday and granting senior pitcher Hailey Dolcini some much-needed rest for the time being.

But the winner-take-all game looked a little different.

Oklahoma State was out in full force for Game 2, with Kelly Maxwell, Big 12 Co-Pitcher of the Year, on the mound. The Friendswood, Texas product threw 18 strikeouts in a game earlier this year and has tossed four no-hitters in her career. 

Maxwell’s pitching held Texas scoreless for the first three innings, while Oklahoma State got out to an early 5–0 lead. 

But a home run from sophomore designated player Courtney Day put Texas on the board in the fourth inning, kicking off a Longhorns comeback that culminated in the top of the fifth. 

A single from sophomore outfielder Bella Dayton turned into a three-run play for Texas after a costly fielding blunder by Oklahoma State. Freshman third baseman Mia Scott and sophomore Jordyn Whitaker scored on the hit. For a moment, Dayton was caught on the basepath between second and third base, but a throwing error sent the ball to the left field fence, allowing Dayton to scamper all the way home for an improbable go-ahead inside-the-park home run. 

“I think it was a momentum grab for us,” Dolcini said. “I think we did a really great job as an offense to keep attacking on those runs and then as a defense to play solid softball behind me and Estelle (Czech).”

The gauntlet doesn’t let up for the Longhorns though, as they’ll face Oklahoma in a best-of-three series for the national championship starting Wednesday. The Sooners have beaten the Longhorns three times in their four previous matchups this season, including a 7–2 victory over the Longhorns in the second round of the WCWS on Saturday.

The Sooners boast a 57–3 record and have been the best team in the country all season. White is aware that Texas’ Red River rival is the favorite to win it all, but he is unbothered by the Sooners’ record as the Longhorns hope to capture their first softball national championship.

“It doesn’t matter what our records are,” White said. “It’s going to be who can make the most of their opportunities.”