College softball: Oklahoma, Alabama to meet in finals

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Pac-12’s run of Women’s College World Series championships is over.

Jackie Traina homered and threw a two-hitter, and Kaila Hunt and Jazlyn Lunceford also homered as Alabama beat top-seeded California 5-2 Sunday to reach the Women’s College World Series finals for the first time.

The No. 2-seeded Crimson Tide (58-7) face Oklahoma (53-8), which knocked off defending champion Arizona State 5-3 in the other semifinal. Both teams arrive on 11-game winning streaks.

The best-of-three championship series starting tonight marks the first time since 1986 that no Pac-12 teams made it to the finals. The conference had won six straight titles, 10 of the past 11 and 23 of 30 since the tournament started.

“There’s athletes everywhere now — I mean everywhere — and if you find them, you’re going to put together a good team,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said.

“It doesn’t matter who it is or where you’re at: cold weather, warm weather, East Coast, West Coast, if you can put them together and you can coach them up, you’re going to have a good team and I think it’s great for the sport.”

This time, it will be the Big 12 going for its fourth NCAA title while Alabama will go for the Southeastern Conference’s first.

Katie Norris homered, Keilani Ricketts struck out 13 and the Sooners struck for four runs in the third inning against Dallas Escobedo (24-8) to take control of their game against Arizona State.

Ricketts hit an RBI single that tied the game 2-2 and Jessica Shults followed with a two-run double that nicked off right-fielder Alix Johnson’s glove as she tried for a diving grab. Shults then came in to score when third baseman Haley Steele lost Norris’ potential inning-ending popup and let it fall.

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