Oklahoma tees off on Texas pitching to take Game 1 of Women's College World Series

Oklahoma's Kinzie Hansen is greeted by her teammates after hitting one of three Sooners home runs on Wednesday. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Oklahoma's Kinzie Hansen is greeted by her teammates after hitting one of three Sooners home runs on Wednesday. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Oklahoma's quest for a fourth straight Women's College World Series championship is off to a tremendous start.

The Sooners teed off on Texas pitching Wednesday in an 8-3 Game 1 win over their Big 12 rivals. Oklahoma is now a win away in the best-of-three series from clinching its eighth NCAA softball championship and its sixth since 2016.

Texas entered Game 1 on a roll as the tournament's No. 1 seed. The Longhorns pitched three straight one-hit shutouts in WCWS play en route to the championship series. Freshman All-American Teagan Kavan (20-2) pitched two of those shutouts and took the mound against Oklahoma.

But Wednesday's game got off to an ominous start. Kavan allowed leadoff hitter Jayda Coleman to reach on a hit-by-pitch. Six pitches later, Coleman crossed home plate.

In Oklahoma's next at-bat, All-American shortstop Tiare Jennings launched a 3-2 Kavan riseball over the left centerfield wall for a 2-0 lead and the first runs yielded by Texas at the WCWS.

The runs were the first allowed by Kavan since May 5 in the Longhorns' regular-season finale. There were more to come.

But not before Texas struck back. The Longhorns responded with a solo home run by second-team All-American Mia Scott, who sent a first-pitch Kelly Maxwell offering into the right-field stands to cut the Oklahoma lead to 2-1.

That's as close as Texas would get.

Oklahoma's Ella Parker led off the third inning with an infield single. Two batters later, second-team All-American catcher Kinzie Hansen sent her home with a two-run home run off Kavan to increase the Sooners lead to 4-1.

Kasadi Pickering then sent a 1-1 pitch over the centerfield wall for back-to-back home runs to increase the Oklahoma lead to 5-1. This one was launched off another rise ball high over the plate.

That was the end of Kavan's day. She finished the game allowing five earned runs on five hits, three home runs and two walks in 2 1/3 innings. She didn't record a strikeout.

Texas faced a chance to cut into Oklahoma's lead in the bottom of the third. Maxwell walked Scott and Bella Dayton to bring Texas' National Player of the Year Reese Atwood to the plate with two on and two out. But Atwood sent Maxwell's second pitch straight back to the mound for an inning-ending groundout.

The Sooners tacked on a pair of insurance runs before Texas threatened again in the sixth. The Longhorns plated two runs to cut their deficit to 7-3, then put two more runners on with two outs. Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso didn't pull Maxwell despite her starter allowing four hits and throwing a wild pitch in the inning.

Maxwell rewarded Gasso's confidence. The graduate transfer from Oklahoma State struck out Victoria Hunter swinging to end the Texas threat and maintain Oklahoma's 7-3 lead. The Sooners added another run in the seventh, and the Longhorns failed to mount a rally with their last chance in the bottom half of the inning.

Maxwell finished the game with a 1-2-3 seventh to secure the Oklahoma win. A third-pitch strike of Viviana Martinez ended the game. Maxwell earned the complete-game win while allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits, one home run and four walks. She struck out eight Texas batters.

With the win, the Sooners take a 3-2 edge in the season series against their soon-to-be SEC rivals. More importantly, they move within a win of the national championship.