OKLAHOMA CITY – Exhausted and with tears in her eyes, Odicci Alexander paused to take a moment and recover.
The James Madison pitcher had just made an incredible diving tag at home plate against Oklahoma State on Friday night and her Dukes were just one out away from becoming the first unseeded team in NCAA softball history to reach the semifinals of the Women’s College World Series.
OSU’s squeeze play with one out with one out and runners on second and third was thwarted when Alexander fielded a bunt and extended her body toward home plate, tagging out a sliding Scotland David. The JMU ace got a popup for the final out a batter later to seal a 2-1 win.
“If that’s not Top 10 SportsCenter, I don’t know what is,” JMU head coach Loren LaPorte said, “because that’s probably the best play I’ve ever seen in my career by a pitcher in that situation with that much pressure, and she’s tired.
“Just to see her leave her feet and make that tag, I mean, that’s, it’s unbelievable. I can’t even describe it any other way.”
Oklahoma State drops into the loser’s bracket where it will play Saturday night. OSU will face the winner of Saturday afternoon’s elimination game between No. 10-seeded Florida State and No. 11 Arizona.
After putting up a nine-strikeout performance in JMU’s 4-3 extra-innings win over top-seeded Oklahoma on Thursday, Alexander continued to dominate Friday night. She limited OSU to three hits and walked only two batters.
Now she’ll have Saturday off to prepare for Sunday’s WCWS semifinal, giving the Dukes a huge advantage needing just one win to reach the championship series.
The Dukes garnered seven hits, and racked up each of their runs early in the game, when Alexander reached home on a throwing error in the first inning and senior outfielder Kate Gordon homered in the third.
The two runs were all the Dukes needed while Alexander gave the Oklahoma City crowd another reason why she could be a possible WCWS MVP, but JMU’s overall defense played a big role in the close win. Alexander was only able to strike out two OSU batters.
“They were very spectacular,” Alexander said of her team’s defense. “I really didn’t have my best stuff today, but they kept me in the game, and I couldn’t be more proud of each and every one of them making those big plays and coming up in those big moments.”
The redshirt senior, with her stoic demeanor in the circle, avoided drama in the seventh after hitting Karli Petty to start off the inning. After obstruction was ruled after a base hit from Reagan Wright, Alexander found herself facing two runners in scoring position with no outs on the board.
When David tried to reach home on a bunt attempt from Chelsea Alexander, it took the play of the WCWS so far to save the underdog’s chances. Odicci Alexander was up for the task, and the Dukes are now just one win away from going to the WCWS championship series.
“Rest up, just keep embracing each and every one of these moments,” Alexander said. “I can’t say that enough. I’m just so happy to be here and bring that fight, heart, passion, grit, all that when we play next.”
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Softball: JMU tops Oklahoma State on Odicci Alexander’s brilliant play