Keilani Ricketts was uncharacteristically wild, Oklahoma defenders were abnormally shaky and Sooner bats were strangely cold.
Seemed like something was off in the cosmos.
Blame it on that whole Venus-in-transit thing. Maybe that's as good an explanation as any for the Sooners' sudden slump in this best-of-three national championship series. Only a day after dominating Alabama and looking like it was on the verge of its second softball national title, OU lost a clunker.
Alabama 8, OU 6.
A late five-run, seventh-inning rally made this one look way better than it was.
“We knew coming in that they were really going to bring their best,” Sooner coach Patty Gasso said of the Crimson Tide. “They really were attacking.
“At the same time, this was a very uncharacteristic game for us.”
The problems started early.
After Ricketts struck out the first two batters of the game and looked to be locked in, the Sooner ace hit a batter. Then gave up a single. Then walked a batter.
Just like that, Alabama had the bases loaded.
Ricketts and the Sooners worked out of the jam with a groundout, but it was a sign of things to come.
When the Crimson Tide next came to bat, the problems continued. The Sooners had an error on the leadoff hitter. Then after a sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second, Ricketts hit a batter. Then after a strikeout, a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third.
A high hopper forced Sooner shortstop Jessica Vest to throw to third to try to get the runner for the third out. Javen Henson bobbled it, allowing a run to score.
But worse, it kept the inning alive.
Alabama took advantage, loading the bases and getting a three-run double from Jackie Traina.
A similarly messy scenario played out two innings later. A hit batter. A passed ball. Another Alabama run.
And like that, Gasso decided to pull Ricketts.
Yep, the national player of the year got yanked.
Told you this was a weird night.
“I could see that Keilani was laboring a little bit,” Gasso said. “I wanted to get her out and just get her rested, get her mind right.”
Ricketts said she wasn't sore, wasn't fatigued, but clearly, she wasn't on her game either.
Her line: six runs (two of them earned), three hits, five strikeouts and five hit batters in 3 1/3 innings.
At least by her standards.
Michelle Gascoigne did admirably in relief, settling down after being dropped in the middle of the biggest game of her life. But at night's end, OU had allowed eight runs on only four hits.
That won't win you a national championship.
Neither will stranding nine runners. Or striking out eight times. Or waiting until the last minute to try to mount a miraculous comeback.
OU had its chances to score in this game before that frantic seventh-inning rally. In the first six innings, it had base runners in every inning but one. And in four innings, it had multiple base runners.
Still, the Sooners only managed one run.
“We didn't play well, we didn't deserve it, but we've got another shot,” Gasso said of the winner-take-all scenario set up for Wednesday night. “We have a tomorrow, which is wonderful.”
Now, what will OU do with its second chance?
That remains to be seen.
Really, it comes down to better execution. I mean, it's fun to throw around a rare celestial event, a planet in the solar system passing between us and the sun as the reason for what happened Tuesday night. But in truth, the Sooners simply have to return to form and play better.
Better defense. Better pitching. Better offense.
The cosmos will return to normal Wednesday.
Will the Sooners?