Oklahoma's softball season ended Saturday afternoon in an emotional meld of disappointment and hope.
The Sooners didn't play their best ball in their two-game stay at the Women's College World Series, especially in Saturday's 4-1 loss to Missouri at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium that ended their season.
OU committed four errors in the loss, three of which directly allowed Missouri's four runs to score. The WCWS trip brought disappointment in the missed opportunities and the end of three valuable seniors' careers.
But a ray of hope shone through after Saturday's game. The young Sooners benefited from the experience of playing in the WCWS and fighting through adversity, even when they didn't win the fight.
Junior catcher Katie Norris suffered an elbow injury in pregame warm-ups and had to be replaced behind the plate by senior Dani Dobbs, who had never caught a game in college. That put freshman Ali Vandever in as the starter at third base in place of Dobbs.
That lack of familiarity among the infielders could have contributed to a couple of the errors that let Missouri score.
“It was a little different out there,” first baseman Chana'e Jones said. “It was different, but it wasn't panicky. It was just different and the chemistry wasn't there.”
Tiger pitcher Chelsea Thomas was back on her game after struggling in the first round on Thursday. She allowed a solo home run to Dobbs among six hits with six strikeouts and two walks.
But the Sooners maintained at least a partially positive view of the season's end, especially considering they had seven freshmen and sophomores in Saturday's starting lineup.