The official name for the home of the Women’s College World Series just got longer.
OGE Energy announced Thursday it has entered a 20-year naming rights agreement with the Oklahoma City All Sports Association and USA Softball for rights to the field at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
As of Thursday, the field’s official name is OGE Energy Field at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. This announcement comes after the NCAA agreed to keep the WCWS in Oklahoma City through 2020 and likely through 2035.
“On behalf of the entire ASA/USA Softball community, we want to thank OGE for stepping up to the plate to support our venue and all levels of softball played here,” Craig Cress, ASA/USA Softball Executive Director, said in a release. “The current and future improvements at the facility are due to OGE’s support, the City of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City All Sports, along with several other community entities and leaders. The vision of all parties for the future of our sport is exceptional.”
Sean Trauschke, OGE Energy President and CFO, threw out the first pitch at Thursday’s 6 p.m. game between Louisiana-Lafayette and Kentucky.
FLORIDA’S HERNDON HITS GRAND SLAM OFF FORMER TEAMMATE
With Florida leading Baylor 7-0 in the bottom of the fifth Thursday, the Gators’ Chelsea Herndon came on to pinch hit with the bases loaded against a familiar face.
Herndon’s former Hebron (Texas) High School teammate Heather Stearns, a sophomore for Baylor, had come on in relief of starter Whitney Canion an inning earlier.
The freshman Herndon got the better of Stearns, blasting a grand slam to left center and capping Florida’s 11-0 five-inning victory.
“I’ve faced her quite a lot in practice and stuff (in high school), but I wasn’t going to let that get to me,” Herndon said. “(The pitch) was down the middle and something looking good. Definitely what I was looking for.”
Herndon, who said she has kept in touch with Stearns since high school, became only the second true freshman to hit a grand slam at the WCWS.
ERRORS PUT BAYLOR IN EARLY HOLE
Baylor fell behind Florida early thanks to some crucial defensive mistakes.
Two errors and a passed ball in the first inning helped the Gators score three unearned runs and the Bears never recovered, falling 11-0 in five innings.
“I felt like we were sucker punched quick, and we didn’t respond,” Baylor coach Glenn Moore said. “It was more of what we did to ourselves than it was what Florida did to us. I thought they played a great game and we played maybe the worst game that I’ve been a part of coaching in four or five years.
“That was embarrassing.”
RARE RUN-RULE WIN
Florida’s 11-0 rout of Baylor in the first game Thursday afternoon was just the fourth, five-inning run-rule win the past 16 years at the WCWS.
Florida three years ago defeated Alabama 16-2. The Crimson Tide defeated Arizona 14-0 in 2009 and Washington won 8-0 over Northwestern in 2007.
It’s more evidence parity has impacted softball like many other sports. In the early years, the WCWS averaged one five-inning, run-rule game a year between 1989 and 1998 — six by Arizona, three by UCLA.
NUNLEY’S 5 WALKS NO PROBLEM FOR UK
Take a look at pitcher Kelsey Nunley’s line in Kentucky’s 4-1 win against Louisiana-Lafayette, and it would seem hard to ask for much more — seven innings, one hit, seven strikeouts.
But then you get to those five walks that allowed the Ragin’ Cajuns to put runners on in five different innings.
UK coach Rachel Lawson, however, wasn’t concerned with her ace. In fact, the five walks weren’t even due entirely to lack of command.
ULL’s lone run was a home run from catcher Lexie Elkins. Lawson didn’t want to take any more chances with the Cajuns’ lineup.
“We weren’t going to throw to their catcher again,” Lawson said. “We only gave up one hit, and it was a home run. Had we not challenged her that first time, who knows what would have happened? A couple of (the walks) were intentional, unintentional.
“I can live with the five walks, and I’m glad we only gave up one home run, because they’re pretty good.”
DUCKS KNOW THE GATORS
Located about as far apart as any two Division I programs in the country, Oregon and Florida are familiar foes in the first winners’ bracket game Friday night at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Back in February, the Gators won 2-1 in eight innings. Last year Florida also won 2-1. Three years ago, the Gators run-ruled the Ducks.
“We know a lot about them,” said Oregon coach Mike White. “It’s a matter of who comes out and executes really well. We’re going to throw Cheridan (Hawkins) and they’ll throw Hannah Rogers.
“I think we’re seeing the ball well right now. We laid off marginal pitches against (Florida State’s) Lacey Waldrop and made a commitment to the strike zone. We have to make (Rogers) come in the strike zone. If we don’t she’s so good she’ll eat you up.”