Jayda Coleman's homer sends defending champ Oklahoma to WCWS finals with 6-5 win over Florida

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Jayda Coleman hit a game-ending homer in the eighth inning to give Oklahoma a 6-5 victory over Florida in the Women's College World Series semifinals on Tuesday, moving the Sooners into the championship series with a chance at an unprecedented fourth straight title.

Coleman sent Keagan Rothrock's 154th pitch of the game just past the outstretched glove of left fielder Korbe Otis and over the fence.

“I was going to take my time, really get a pitch that I wanted to see,” Coleman said. “I saw middle. I knew I needed to stay through the ball. Going around the bases, I lost it, just started crying.”

Coleman thrust her arms above her head as she rounded the bases and was mobbed by teammates at the plate as fans screamed in the stadium just a half-hour drive from the Oklahoma campus in Norman.

“I think one of the better games in College World Series history,” Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso said. “A nail-biter. A little bit of everything.”

Ella Parker homered and drove in three runs for the second-seeded Sooners (57-7), who will will play No. 1 seed Texas (55-8) in the best-of-three championship series starting Wednesday night. Oklahoma has won five of the past seven national titles and seven overall. Texas has never won a national title.

Oklahoma defeated Texas in the championship series in 2022. This year, Texas won the Big 12 regular-season title while Oklahoma won the conference tournament. The rival schools both will leave the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference next season.

Gasso, who has led the Sooners to seven national titles, said she didn't assume the Sooners would get back to the championship series.

“I don’t know that I could tell you that I believed that we would be here again because it’s so difficult to get here,” she said. “The way we did it was wonderful."

Texas is 3-0 in the World Series this year, each game a one-hit shutout.

Oklahoma, meanwhile, lost to Florida 9-3 a day earlier and had to rally from a three-run deficit in Tuesday's elimination game.

Rothrock, a freshman, threw 379 pitches in three days to give the Gators a chance.

“I mean, I don’t even have words,” Florida centerfielder Kendra Falby said. “There’s only so much you can ask of a freshman. She’s not even a freshman. I don’t consider her a freshman, like whatsoever. Keagan came out and did everything and more for us.”

Florida led 5-2 on Tuesday when Oklahoma's Cydney Sanders hit a two-run homer to center in the fourth inning. In the sixth, Parker tied it with a two-out RBI single that scored Avery Hodge from second.

Oklahoma pitcher Kelly Maxwell retired all six Florida batters in the seventh and eighth innings to set up the finish. She threw 148 pitches and held the Gators scoreless for the final five innings.

Parker made it 2-2 in the first with a two-run homer to second. Jocelyn Erickson, who won a national title with Oklahoma last season before transferring, hit a two-run homer for Florida in the top half.

All the Gators' runs came on longballs. Ariel Kowalewski’s homer in the second, a two-run shot and her eighth of the year, put Florida up 4-2, and Reagan Walsh’s solo shot in the third made it 5-2.

Parker singled in the fifth and tried to stretch it into a double. She collided with Florida shortstop Skylar Wallace at second, and the ball was dislodged as Wallace’s forearm hit Parker’s helmet. Wallace was called for obstruction, making Parker safe at second. Both players stayed on the ground for a short time before getting up.

“I kind of don’t really remember a whole lot of it just because of like, I guess, the adrenaline rushing,” Parker said. “Just doing whatever to get to second base.”

Parker was checked for concussion symptoms and returned to drive in the tying run.

“She wanted it,” Gasso said. “We asked, ‘Are you OK? I know you got clearance, are you good?’ She goes, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, get me back in there.'”

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This story has been corrected. A previous version misspelled Korbe Otis' last name.

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AP college sports: https://apnews.com/hub/college-sports