OKLAHOMA CITY -- In an epic Women's College World Series Championship Series opener at USA Hall of Fame Stadium in OKC, it took 17 innings, six lead changes and three Oklahoma runs in the top of the 17th inning to give the Sooners a 7-5 victory over Florida on Monday in front of 8,337 softball crazed fans.
Monday's contest was the longest game in WCWS and Florida history. The second-longest game in WCWS and UF history was UF's 9-8 win over Nebraska on June 1, 2013 (15 innings).
The Gators will look to stay alive in the best-of-three championship series with game two set for 8 p.m. (ET) Tuesday.
Monday night's classic marked the first meeting between these two storied programs since 2005; the first-ever contest in Oklahoma City. Overall, UF is now 1-5 all-time against OU.
The Orange and Blue (58-9) jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on the Sooners (60-9) in the fourth with a Nicole DeWitt double and an RBI single by Aleshia Ocasio.
OU answered with runs in the fifth and sixth innings to grab a 2-1 lead.
In the fifth, Oklahoma's Nicole Pendley mashed a one-out double to right-center and Sydney Romero hit the next pitch up the middle for an RBI single. OU's Nicole Mendes followed their lead and hit a one-out solo home run to grab the lead for the Sooners.
Oklahoma changed pitchers from Paige Lowary (16-3) to Paige Parker in the sixth.
After a quick first inning of work, Florida rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Janell Wheaton walked to lead off the home half of the seventh.
After Ocasio replaced her via a fielder's choice, shortstop Sophia Reynoso was down to her last strike when she recorded an RBI double to extend the game.
Beginning in the eighth, Delanie Gourley relieved Kelly Barnhill (26-4) in the circle and set down the first 12 of first 13 hitters she faced.
In the 12th inning, OU's Shay Knighten led off the frame with a double down the right-field line. Fale Aviu followed with a two-run home run.
Oklahoma led Florida, 4-2.
Undaunted, Florida answered.
Florida began its half of the 12th with a Jordan Roberts walk and a Reynoso single to right field. That set the table for sophomore Amanda Lorenz, who recorded a two-run double to tie the game at four runs apiece.
Prior to Lorenz' double, Lowary re-entered the game in the circle.
Although each team had chances to score, neither team could push across another run until the 17th inning.
OU struck first (obviously) with three in the top of the 17th, as Barnhill (who re-entered the game in the 16th for Gourley) surrendered a Knighten three-run home run.
Florida was able to push one run across in the bottom half of the inning, but left the bases loaded as OU grabbed the first game of this best-of-three series.
A total of 496 pitches were hurled Monday night, by all four pitchers. Below are the complete pitching lines:
• Kelly Barnhill (9.0 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 13 K) - LOSS • Delanie Gourley (8.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 13 K)
• Paige Lowary (10.1 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K) - WINNER • Paige Parker (6.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 K)
Several highlight-reel defensive plays by Sophia Reynoso at shortstop highlighted the game for Florida while the Gators connected for 10 hits on the night, as four players had double-digit hits.