1. Never doubt Florida State’s pitching strategy
During Lonni Alameda’s most successful years as head coach at Florida State, the pitching circle has always been a particular strength for the Seminoles. Danielle Watson’s name in the starting pitcher slot on Tuesday night was a surprise, but Alameda knew what she was doing. Watson has mainly held a relief role – admittedly, she’s held it well – during the regular season, but she turned in 5.2 innings of quality work on Tuesday night. Watson gave up six hits, four runs, and collected five strikeouts en route to earning the win. Kathryn Sandercock entered in a relief role late in the ball game, but threw just 21 pitches in what was officially 1.1 innings of work. As the Seminoles try to clinch a championship on Wednesday night, Sandercock should be fairly well-rested, while Caylan Arnold will be totally fresh should her services be called upon in Game 2.
2. Oklahoma’s offense doesn’t go silent
The Sooners’ bats may go silent at times, but you can never count Oklahoma out of a ballgame so long as they have at-bats remaining. Even after Florida State jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the early innings, the Sooners came back. Kinzie Hansen and Nicole Mendes hit back-to-back home runs with two outs in the fourth inning and Oklahoma made a game of it with another pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth. Even with their backs against the wall now, one loss away from losing two national titles in a row, never count out the Sooner offense.
3. Kalei Harding: The next breakout star
It was her defense that raised eyebrows first. Harding helped erase an Oklahoma scoring threat early in the game with a catch-and-throw double play that included a frozen rope throw from right field to third base to put out a tagging runner. The very next inning, Harding blasted a 2-run home run that was a no-doubter off the bat and added a 2-run double later in the game. Batting .279 entering the game, Harding had the game of her life on the greatest stage.
4. Aggressive base running makes a difference
As Florida State poured on the runs early against Oklahoma, Seminoles third-base coach Troy Cameron didn’t hesitate in his approach from the third-base coaches box. In the fourth inning, on Harding’s double, Sydney Sherrill’s single, and Elizabeth Mason’s single, Cameron was consistent and aggressive, sending the runners to the plate each time. His instincts paid off, as the Sooners were forced to make throws that came in late or were misplayed in a rushed moment.
5. Umpiring at its finest
This one deserved to be mentioned even before most of the Hall of Fame Stadium crowd verbally disagreed with Don Brown’s obstruction call on a play-at-the-plate in the seventh inning. The umpiring crew on Tuesday night called a sharp game, and Brown’s pair of obstruction calls were called right on the money. The obstruction rule is a stupid one, and a healthy portion of working game officials would likely agree with that observation. But until the rule is disposed of, it has to be called and Brown called it right.