OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Senior Kate Gordon drilled a full-count home run over the left-center-field wall in the top of the eighth inning to power James Madison to a 4-3 win over top-seeded Oklahoma in the opening game of the Women’s College World Series on Thursday afternoon at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.
The Dukes (40-2) needed just three hits on the day, as senior Odicci Alexander largely quieted a historically powerful Oklahoma (50-3) offense, yielding just six hits and striking out nine, including the 700th of her career, in a complete-game effort that saw the Sooners score all of their runs on a three-run homer in the third inning.
Prior to Gordon’s homer, senior Sara Jubas did the damage for the Dukes, staking JMU a 3-0 lead in the top of the third with a three-run shot to center field. Gordon’s winning shot was the 69th of her career, setting a JMU and Colonial Athletic Association record and powering the Dukes to the historic win.
The win came in the Dukes’ first-ever WCWS game and marked the first time since Louisiana in 2008 that an unseeded team downed the top-seeded team in the opening matchup. The Sooners’ three runs marked their lowest run total of the 2021 season.
The Dukes are 4-1 against teams from the Big 12 and SEC in the 2021 postseason.
How It Happened
The first two innings started out slow, with each team getting a runner on in the first without a hit and then being retired in order in the second. The Dukes then got the party started in the third, as Lauren Bernett led off with a single to second base. Michelle Sullivan then reached on a fielding error and two batters later Sara Jubas would take the first pitch she saw over the center-field wall to give JMU a 3-0 lead.
The Sooners responded quickly, putting the first two batters on with singles in the bottom of the third, before a three-run homer from Tiare Jennings would tie the game. A pitching duel would then follow the third inning as neither team would advance a runner to second over the next four innings except JMU when Madison Naujokas would reach by a hit by pitch and steal second in the fourth inning.
Oklahoma managed a single in the fifth and then a single in the sixth, but Alexander would retire six straight to force the game into extra innings. This was the second extra-inning game for either team on the season. With one down in the top of the eighth, Gordon would work a full count before hitting her 69th career home run, setting the CAA career home run record and giving the Dukes a 4-3 lead.
Alexander headed out to the circle for the bottom half of the inning and worked around a one-out walk to National Player of the Year Jocelyn Alo, to secure the program’s first win in the WCWS.
The Dukes will move on in the winners’ bracket, and play at 7 p.m. EST tomorrow, June 4 against fifth-seed Oklahoma State, a 3-2 winner against Georgia.
COURTESY JAMES MADISON ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS