Texas stumbles in game one against Oklahoma. How can the Longhorns bounce back?

OKLAHOMA CITY — No one ever said beating Oklahoma would be easy, especially at Devon Park.

That’s the message Texas coach Mike White had for his team after the Sooners showcased their strength with an 8-3 victory on Wednesday in the first game of the Women’s College World Series best-of-three championship series.

“It’s not how hard you fall, it’s how high you bounce back,” White said. “We have to come back from adversity right now or we go home. It’s pretty simple. It’s fight or go home.”

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Oklahoma infielder Ella Parker celebrates beside Texas infielder Viviana Martinez after hitting a double in Oklahoma’s 8-3 win in Game 1 of the Women’s College World Series softball championship series game at Devon Park in Oklahoma City.

The next battle is on Thursday. Texas will need to step up their game after managing just four hits against Oklahoma ace Kelly Maxwell, who earned the complete-game win. Maxwell could pitch again, based on her comments after Wednesday’s game.

“This is it; this is my last opportunity,” said Maxwell, an Oklahoma State transfer in her first season with the Sooners. “I’m just going to do everything I can to keep this team in it. I know that they have my back and I got theirs.”

And how does Maxwell feel after throwing 15 innings and 267 pitches over the past two days?

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“Mentally and physically, I’m doing good,” she said. “The staff here is doing everything they can to keep me going and feeling good.”

Texas coach Mike White: ‘It’s like a chess match’

In contrast, the Texas pitchers can’t be feeling great after nearly the entire staff saw action while giving up nine hits, including three home runs. Freshman Teagan Kavan started after throwing a pair of one-hit shutouts in earlier WCWS wins over Stanford, but her streak of 14 scoreless innings ended quickly with a two-run homer from Oklahoma’s Tiare Jennings in the first inning. Mac Morgan, who tossed a one-hit shutout against Florida earlier in the WCWS, relieved Kavan in the third inning with Texas down 5-1, but only threw 2⅓ scoreless innings as White began to strategize his pitching options for Game 2.

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“It’s like a chess match,” White said. “Obviously, they (the Texas players) were very disappointed in our effort and the execution of the game plan. You have a certain game plan, but you got to adjust midway. I’ve always said he who adjusts last, loses. We didn’t really do a good job of that tonight.”

Texas braces for another chance in Game 2

Texas third baseman Mia Scott hammered a solo home run in the first inning, and Katie Stewart and Joley Mitchell each added an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth. Those runs provided the slightest of salves in a painful loss, White said.

Stewart, a freshman, said a young Longhorns team that started six freshmen or sophomores Wednesday can learn from its Game 1 experience in the intense atmosphere of Devon Park.

“We got a taste of it in the Big 12 Tournament, with all of their fans being here,” Stewart said. “It was a little different tonight, but we need to stay focused, reminding ourselves that it’s just a game. Listening to the fans is only going to hurt us.”