A strange in-game rule emerged at the 2022 ICW World Championships: While most NCAA softball games can be ended with a mercy rule (or “running rule”) when a team advances by eight or more runs in the fifth inning or thereafter, the play is turned off. The choice when there are only two teams left standing. When the tournament is at stake, matches must be played to the end. Of course, this scenario doesn’t come up very often, given that the two teams that have outdone everyone else usually compete. In the history of the WCWS Championship Series, more games have gone into additional innings (12) than were capped by eight or more runs (six prior to this year).
But softball needs mercy to protect itself from Oklahoma, the sport’s most dominant team ever. The Sooners won 59-3 this season to win their second consecutive National Championship. Of those 59 victories, 41 It was decided by the Rule of Mercy, and it should have been 43. They swept Texas in the championship series, and both games were an absolute blast: They won Game 1 16-1, breaking a six-home record and marking the largest margin in a championship series, and they topped the match 2 10-2 after six runs. Texans won by three games bottoming out in seventh place to take the final score 10-5.
Things are supposed to get tougher for the teams as they go deeper into the post-season. This was not the case for Oklahoma. During the regular season and Big 12 tournament, the Sooners outnumbered their opponents by a total of 463-45 — with an average winning margin of 8.20. In the NCAA Championship, they increased that margin to 8.73, thanks to a record 20-0 win over Texas A&M and an 8-0 no-hitter against the UCF. They sealed a trip to the Championship Series by directing UCLA 15-0, then put 26 rounds into two games in the Championship Series. When it got tough, the tourists kept hitting fingers.
Most of the Sooners hype naturally surrounds Jocelyn Allo, who undoubtedly cemented her place as the greatest hitter in college softball history. The all-time NBA captain capped her career by going 12 to 18 with five runs in WCWS, boosting her batting average to 0.515 per season while setting records for most home runs (five) and most runs scored (12). It is a WCWS tradition that guides give families of players balls that are hit on their ground; The Alo clan returns to Hawaii with a suitcase full of soft, deeply dented balls.
Of course, teams do not win 41 games by virtue of mercy because of one star. Oklahoma has averaged a run of 9.33 points per game this season, while no other team has averaged more than 8.0. If I removed all of Alo’s 85 RBIs, he would still average 7.93 swipes per game, which would have been good enough for him to finish second in the state. Behind Alo in the batting order is Tiare Jennings, who led the Division I in the RBIs. It was fairly common for teams to walk Alo’s, only for Jennings to walk home — which happened against Texas on Wednesday night. (Allo and Jennings continued to hit back-to-back ground.)
In addition to having the best attack in softball, Oklahoma also had the best shooting crew. finished the season with 0.97 ERA; Wichita State ranked second with 1.46 ERA. (To be fair, the Oklahoma hitters didn’t have to turn to the Oklahoma hitters.) The Sooners allowed only 65 hits in 61 games, while three Oklahoma hitters individually scored at least that number. The shooters soon threw eight players, with two in the NCAA Championships.
Oklahoma was amazing on defense. Defender Jayda Coleman robbed a Texas home in the championship playoff Thursday night.
Dominance can be boring at times – but it never felt like it for a team that took pleasure in beating their opponents in every possible way. I’m glad the Championship Series doesn’t have a mercy rule. For once, we get to see exactly what happens when the rushers keep piling up.