SOONERS headed to world series again

Tuesday, May 22nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ The Oklahoma softball team may have surprised people last year by getting to the Women's College World Series. Not this time.

The Sooners, who wound up winning the national title in 2000, earned a return trip to the WCWS by beating Washington 10-2 on Sunday. They will take a 22-game winning streak into their first-round game Thursday against Michigan at Don Porter Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.

``We're not going into the series cocky, rather very confident,'' first baseman Lisa Carey said. ``Jennifer (Stewart) has been great on the mound and our defense has been exceptional. I think we have the tools to get it done.''

The other seven teams in the field are Arizona, UCLA, Michigan, Stanford, Iowa, California and Louisiana State. The tournament begins Thursday and runs through Memorial Day.

The Sooners (49-7) had 16 hits Sunday and took immediate control by scoring three runs in the first inning. They began the game with four straight hits, two of them on bunts. Ashli Evans followed a short time later with a two-run single, the first of her four hits.

Oklahoma scored again in the second, twice in the fifth and four more in the seventh. Kelli Braitsch had a two-run single in the seventh inning.

Braitsch and Erin Evans drove in three runs each.

``Last year, I was sitting here all choked up because we had come a long way to get to the College World Series,'' coach Patty Gasso said. ``This year, there was no outrageous celebration because we were focused and ready to play.''

Washington (40-23) had stayed alive in the tournament by eliminating Massachusetts 7-1 earlier Sunday. The Huskies had 10 hits against Stewart (36-3), but never threatened after falling behind early.

Tia Bollinger (36-8), who gave up three hits in five innings against UMass, gave up 11 hits and six runs in five innings against Oklahoma.

``Long day today, wish it would have been longer,'' said Washington coach Teresa Wilson, whose team was seeking a sixth straight trip to the Women's College World Series. ``We were better than we played today. On any given day, we could've done a lot more.''

Gasso noted that even though the Sooners are defending national champions, they were the No. 5 seed nationally heading into the regionals.

``So we're not going to be favored, as some may think,'' she said. ``It's going to be the Arizona-UCLA show again, but we've proved that we can handle that.''