Texas first unseeded team to make WCWS finals

OKLAHOMA CITY — Texas stormed back from five runs down to beat Oklahoma State 6-5 and reach the Women’s College World Series championship series for the first time in program history.

It’s the first time an unseeded team has ever reached the WCWS finals.

Oklahoma State scored five runs in the first three innings, and starting pitcher Kelly Maxwell was working on a no-hitter until things fell apart for the Cowgirls in the top of the fourth when Courtney Day hit a three-run home run to left field.

An inning later, things went from bad to worse when Bella Dayton singled through the right side of the field and the right fielder bobbled the ball, allowing the runner at third to score. Oklahoma State first baseman Hayley Busby cut off the throw and tried to throw out the runner at second, but her throw sailed wide and rolled all the way to the warning track.

Two more runs scored, and Texas took the lead and never looked back.

Oklahoma State’s largest blown lead before Monday night was two runs. The Cowgirls were 29-1 this season when scoring five runs or more.

“To make three errors was tough to watch and tough to take,” Oklahoma State coach Kenny Gajewski said. “We were trying to win. We just didn’t make the plays.”

But Gajewski said the two-error play in the fifth inning wasn’t the deciding factor in the game and was ultimately emblematic of a sloppy effort all day long. Oklahoma State lost to Texas, 5-0, earlier in the afternoon, forcing the elimination game.

Needing two wins in a row, Texas was undeterred.

“No one thought we’d be here but we proved everyone wrong,” said Longhorns starting pitcher Estelle Czech.

Czech, who pitched a complete-game shutout earlier in the day to keep the season alive, lasted only two innings in the nightcap before Hailey Dolcini was called on in relief.

Dolcini gave up two quick runs but stuck it out, throwing four scoreless innings down the stretch to earn the win.

“We were in a position we can’t lose,” Dolcini said. “Nobody had us being here at all, let alone going and competing for a national championship. So for us, we’re playing free, we’re playing for each other. And I think that’s the best part of all this.”

Texas coach Mike White, who will be making his first WCWS final appearance, admitted that he never would have thought as recently as a month ago that his team could go this far in the tournament.

“This is the best team I’ve ever had,” White said. “At times it didn’t feel like that. Truthfully, it’s been one of the hardest years I’ve had to coach, just the ups and downs. But credit to our coaching staff as well. We’ve pulled things together.”

Texas advances to play top-seeded Oklahoma in the best-of-three series starting on Wednesday night.

The Longhorns (47-20-1) handed the Sooners (57-3) their first loss of the season in April but lost the rematch last Saturday, 7-2.

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