OU softball notebook: Bahl returns to help Sooners close out Northwestern

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Jun. 3—OKLAHOMA CITY — After racking up 13 runs between the third and fourth innings, Oklahoma was just three outs away from securing a run-rule win over Northwestern Thursday in the first round of the Women's College World Series at USA Hall of Fame Stadium.

Starting pitcher Hope Trautwein finished out her day striking out the final two batters before being replaced with a runner on first and two outs on the board.

For the first time in nearly a month, OU freshman pitcher Jordy Bahl trotted out from the bullpen and took the ball from Trautwein in the circle. The sellout crowd erupted as the star freshman started her warm up to Metallica's "Enter Sandman", which was being played on the stadium's speakers.

OU head coach Patty Gasso said it was a moment that she didn't think would happen again at any point this season after Bahl injured her arm during pregame warmups against Oklahoma State on May 6.

"We need her, but these two pitchers (Trautwein and Nicole May) have been crushing it," Gasso said. "So adding Jordy to the mix, and making you now train for three different pitchers instead of two is difficult.

"But it was a victory just seeing her being able to pitch, because truly I didn't think she would be able to come back. She's done everything right and she's done it 24 hours a day every day since it happened. So to see this going on is a victory."

The 12,282 fans in attendance (mostly in favor of the Sooners) only got louder when Bahl delivered a strike on her very first pitch back. The Wildcats got a pair of singles to score their second run of the game before Bahl forced the next batter to ground into a fielder's choice to end the game in a 13-2 run-rule win.

Despite the time away, the freshman's confident demeanor hadn't gone away. The Nebraska native showed her typical tenacity — strutting around the circle, letting her arms swing as she stared down the catcher and ripping off her face mask when the team made a big play.

"It's huge," Trautwein said about Bahl's appearance. "Jordy works her butt off and this setback is not really a setback for her and for her to come into this game and close this game out — it was huge for our team and for me personally."

It was short outing for Bahl but an important one for the team as they continue to compete for a national championship. Oklahoma will face Texas in the second round on Saturday at 2 p.m.

The Longhorns are one of only two teams to have defeated the Sooners this season.

"I'm just really thinking ahead and strategizing for a young lady that has been dying to get on this mound and has been struggling through it," Gasso said. "To give her that opportunity was gold and our team responded to it. I wasn't trying to make a big deal out of it, it was purely to get the feel for what this looks like so (she'll) be ready when (she) goes again."

Tarik Masri is a sports reporter for The Transcript covering OU athletics and area sports. You can reach him by emailing tarik@normantranscript.com