OKLAHOMA CITY — Shay Knighten lifted both of her arms as her game-tying solo shot cleared the wall at Hall of Fame Stadium.
It was a fitting final at-bat for the senior, who was determined her team would recover from a blowout loss in Game 1 of the Women’s College World Series championship round.
“We had probably one of the worst games that we've ever played (on Monday),” OU coach Patty Gasso said, “and to come back the way that we did, I couldn't be more proud of this group. They fought their tail off. We played an unbelievable, outstanding team.
“... But what we did today, I'll never forget.”
Knighten’s homer tied the game 4-4 in the top of the seventh frame. UCLA responded with a walk-off RBI single to erase Knighten’s heroics and claim its 12th national title in program history.
UCLA’s 5-4 win ends OU’s season and a bid for a third national title in four years.
Knighten’s last at-bat in a Sooner uniform was still a special way to end a remarkable run, she said during an emotional postgame press conference.
"This season has been very special,” Knighten said. “For me to go out that way was just really cool, just being able to run the bases (and) see Sooner Nation, my teammates so happy and so excited."
The excitement faded as UCLA celebrated its first national title since 2010.
The Sooners still were proud of the way they kept it close from the start, unlike Monday’s 16-3 loss to the Bruins in Game 1 of the WCWS championship series.
OU just couldn’t ever take the lead from the eventual national champions.
A leadoff double from Sydney Romero in the first inning seemed like a good omen for the Sooners.
Back-to-back home runs in the first inning from UCLA’s leadoff and 2-hole hitters looked even better, though, for the Bruins.
OU’s defense held up much better in Game 2 with ace Giselle Juarez, who’s started every game for the Sooners in the Women’s College World Series, pitching a complete game Tuesday night.
The junior Juarez gave up 10 hits, struck out seven and walked three after OU’s disastrous Monday night performance.
“For me, it was just about fighting back,” Juarez said, “giving us a shot to get back in there. (My teammates) kept telling me, ‘We got you.’”
The OU defense committed one error a night after committing four. And the offense showed signs of life with Romero's solo shot in the top of the third, Fale Aviu's RBI single and Lynnsie Elam's RBI double in the fourth.
The Sooners always seemed to have an answer, but so did the Bruins in their title-clinching victory.
OU walks away from their 2019 campaign at 57-6, Big 12 regular-season champions and a NCAA single-season record for most consecutive wins with 41 that spanned Feb. 23 to May 19.
The top-seeded Sooners couldn’t capture their fifth national title in program history, but Gasso sends out a senior class that brought two championships to the university.
“To go out the way we did,” Knighten said, “although it wasn’t the way we wanted, just the fight and the grit, determination that his team had was something I will never, ever forget.”