OKLAHOMA CITY — An impromptu party in front of the dugout during a fourth-inning rain delay turned into a celebration that will last a long time for Alabama's softball team.
The Crimson Tide turned the 13-minute delay into the momentum that propelled them to a four-run inning and a 5-4 win over Oklahoma in the deciding game of thee NCAA championship series that ended early Thursday.
Jackie Traina threw a five-hitter and Alabama became the first SEC team to win an NCAA softball title. Alabama (60-8) is the first team from outside the Pac-12 to win the title since Michigan in 2005.
"Who wouldn't want to be the first SEC team to win it?" Traina said. "That just makes it that much better."
Traina struck out Keilani Ricketts to end a game delayed almost three hours at the start by rain. In the fourth, when an another delay set in, Alabama players gathered in front of the dugout and led chants with each other and fans until the delay ended.
"Our team has so much fun,'' Tide designated player Amanda Locke said. "From then on there was no stopping us."
Football: USF announced two kickoff times — home vs. Chattanooga at 7 p.m. on Sept. 1, and at Ball State at 4:30 on Sept. 22. … UCF's Sept. 8 game at Ohio State will start at noon (ESPN2), and its Aug. 30 opener at Akron will start at 7. … Clemson coach Dabo Swinney agreed to a three-year contract extension.
Calathes update: With his basketball contract with Panathinaikos in Greece expired, former Gator Nick Calathes is reportedly looking to return to the United States and play in the NBA. Calathes, 23, a guard, has played in Europe since leaving UF after his sophomore season in 2008-09. He went in the second round of the 2009 NBA draft to the Timberwolves, who then traded him to the Mavericks.