When it came to whether or not Florida’s Kayli Kvistad leaned into the pitch that hit her with the bases loaded Tuesday night, Saugus High graduate Mariah Lopez remained noncommittal.
“I mean, I don’t really know,” the Oklahoma freshman pitcher told The Signal Wednesday. “I don’t have a comment about it.”
When it came to Oklahoma’s 5-4 win in game two of the Women’s College World Series championship finals, sealing the program’s second straight national title, though, Lopez definitively put her mark on it.
The freshman entered the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the second inning, Oklahoma already trailing 2-1.
After pegging Kvistad, Lopez induced a foul out to end the threat.
“I really wasn’t that worried,” said Lopez, a 2016 Saugus grad, “because I felt we’d already gotten so far in the tournament and the season, and I had no doubt we were going to fight until that last pitch no matter if the game went in our favor or not.”
The best-of-three series first turned in the Sooners’ favor Monday night, as the teams slogged through 17 innings of play before Oklahoma escaped with a 7-5 win.
Lopez didn’t pitch in the game, but with juniors Paige Lowary and Paige Parker combining to throw 247 pitches, she knew her opportunity was coming.
“I was waiting for it,” Lopez said. “I was ready for it. It was something that I’ll never forget, pitching in the national championship series, in the final game. It was amazing: The adrenaline and the crowd were awesome.”
Lopez, who entered Tuesday with a 1.84 ERA and a 17-1 record, began warming up before Parker threw the night’s first pitch.
“Throughout the World Series all of us were pretty much on call,” she said.
After working out of the second inning, Lopez held the Gators to one run over the next two frames, striking out two and walking none.
Oklahoma made its move in the bottom of the second, scoring four runs to build a lead it never relinquished.
Lowary recorded the game’s final six outs. Lopez, the game’s winning pitcher, found her way into a dogpile.
“The national championship thing, I don’t know if it will ever sink in,” Lopez said. “It’s been a crazy ride.”