OKLAHOMA CITY — Auburn’s powerful offense struggled to generate much of anything against Oklahoma star Paige Parker throughout most of Monday night’s Women’s College World Series championship opener.
And by the time the Tigers did get something going, it was too little, too late.
The Sooners held off the Tigers’ seventh-inning rally attempt for a 3-2 victory Monday night in the first game of the WCWS championship series. Auburn must now win on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights to win its first-ever softball national championship, while Oklahoma wins the title with a win on Tuesday.
Auburn had averaged more than seven runs during its first three WCWS games — all wins — but on Monday, Parker gave the Tigers lots of trouble. Auburn managed only two hits and no runs through the first six innings, while Oklahoma scored all the runs it needed with freshman Sydney Romero’s third-inning, three-run home run.
Other than Romero’s homer, Auburn senior pitcher Lexi Davis held the Sooners in check most of the night.
But in the top of the seventh inning, Auburn’s normally potent offense finally showed some spark. Sophomore catcher Carlee Wallace walked, and senior first baseman Jade Rhodes followed that with a two-run blast over the center field fence.
Then, junior Haley Fagan singled up the middle, and two batters later, Whitney Jordan reached first base when she hit a dribbler back to Parker, who misfired on her throw to first base.
Suddenly, Auburn was down 3-2 with one out and two runners on base.
But when pinch hitter Courtney Shea hit a ground ball to first base, OU’s Shay Knighten threw Casey McCrackin — Fagan’s pinch runner — out at the plate, and Auburn’s Tiffany Howard popped out to end the game.
The two teams meet again Tuesday at 8 p.m. (ET), and again at the same time Wednesday if Auburn wins Game 2.
The Tigers (57-11) are playing in their first-ever WCWS championship series.