Meet Miami (Ohio) slugger Karli Spaid, the answer to an OU trivia question

Meet Miami (Ohio) slugger Karli Spaid, the answer to an OU trivia question

On the day OU softball opened its spectacular new stadium, no one made any more fireworks than the Redhawks’ All-American infielder.

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

| Mar 1, 2024, 9:00pm CST

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

Mar 1, 2024, 9:00pm CST

(Want Sellout Crowd content sent directly to your inbox? Subscribe to our newsletters here.)

NORMAN — Speculation swirled before OU’s first game at Love’s Field about who would hit the first homer in Sooner softball’s new sanctuary.

Tiare Jennings? Alyssa Brito? Kinzie Hansen? 

How about Karli Spaid?

Bet you didn’t have that name on your big-bomb bingo card.

But in the top of the first inning, Miami (Ohio)’s career home-run leader and one of the nation’s leading home-run hitters stepped to the plate with nearly 4,500 watching in person and thousands more watching on TV and smashed the first pitch she saw into the right-field bleachers. A no-doubter. A history-maker.

“I honestly barely remember it,” Spaid said with a laugh.

The record books, however, will remember it. So will everyone who watched the game because it sparked a doozy.

OU 9, Miami (Ohio) 7.

On the day the Sooners’ magnificent stadium opened, we got a game every bit as magnificent — and started by Spaid’s first-inning home run, then prolonged by her game-tying, seventh-inning home run.

Yep, she not only hit the first homer at Love’s Field but also became the first player with multiple homers in a single game at the stadium.

This, by the way, was no fluke of a day for Spaid.

Last season, she was named an All-American by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, the first player in Miami (Ohio) history to be so honored. Then before this season, D1 Softball ranked the senior infielder the 20th best player in college softball, the highest mark by a player from a non-Power Five program.

All she’s done so far this year is prove that all those accolades are warranted.

Spaid entered the game Friday with eight home runs already this spring, tied for third most in the nation. But since Miami (Ohio) had only played eight games, her average of 0.73 homers per game was best in the nation.

Spaid only added to those big numbers against the Sooners, something many a standout has failed to do against OU over the past few years.

But she didn’t blink.

Neither did the Redhawks.

“Just going in there being confident in myself and being confident that up and down the lineup, we’re gonna score no matter what,” Spaid said of her approach. “So just trusting myself and then trusting the person behind me.”

Even against the three-time defending national champs on the day they opened their new cathedral of a stadium.

“We just wanted to hit and hit it hard,” Spaid said, “and then whatever happens, happens.”

What happened was almost a historic upset on a historic day.

It started with Spaid’s big blast in the first inning. 

“It felt pretty good,” Spaid admitted.

And it put a charge in her teammates. Holly Blaska (what a great name for a clean-up hitter!) followed right after Spaid with another home run, then for the next three innings, the Redhawks held the Sooners to only one run. But even after OU added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings, then opened the floodgates with four runs in the sixth inning, Miami (Ohio) wasn’t done.

Down 7-3 in the seventh, it tied the game on back-to-back-to-back home runs. 

Spaid delivered the last of them, another first-pitch blast into the right-field bleachers.

“Again, barely remember it,” she said.

Someone’s gonna need to get this slugger a copy of that game video.

“Just seeing it up and seeing a good strike,” Spaid said of her approach on that second homer. “I had been chasing a little bit after the first one, so just seeing a good pitch that I could hit.”

All told, Spaid and Co. blasted five home runs against OU, the first time the Sooners have given up even three homers in a game since June 6, 2022 against UCLA at the Women’s College World Series. That Bruin team was a big-hitting team, and so is this Miami (Ohio) bunch.

It entered the game averaging 3.09 home runs a game, the best in the nation by more than a full homer.

These Redhawks can mash.

And mash they did Friday, hitting five long balls and forcing the Sooners into some long-ball heroics of their own. It was Kinzie Hansen’s two-run, walk-off dinger in the seventh that won the game.

The Sooners could do nothing but appreciate what the Redhawks did.

“I don’t think we were expecting what they would do to our pitchers,” Sooner coach Patty Gasso said. “But we learned a good valuable lesson from the pitching staff that we’ve got to have a little more of a mix in order to be successful against a big-hitting team like that. 

“That team — Miami of Ohio — they’re going to do some good things. I would feel very uncomfortable playing them in postseason. It’s not like they’re lucky. They’re not. They’re just real. They’re legit.”

Hansen said, “That was a great hitting team. They take some great hacks.”

When all was said and done and the Redhawks gathered outside their dugout just beyond the first-base concourse, Sooner fans let them know how well they’d played. Some approached to say so. Others gave a cheer from afar.

Rest assured, Miami (Ohio) wasn’t looking for a moral victory. It was in it to win it.

Still, there were lots of smiles in their postgame huddle, and none was bigger than Spaid’s.

“Just having fun, staying loose,” she said. “We preach just playing Miami softball, so when we hit, pitch, field and run bases, we’re having fun.”

Spaid did more than have fun.

She made history.

“It was just an honor even playing here,” she said. “It was just outstanding. You dream of it as a little girl.”

Not sure anyone could’ve dreamed it as good as Karli Spaid made it.

Share with your crowd
Jenni Carlson is a columnist with the Sellout Crowd network. Follow her on Twitter at @JenniCarlson_OK. Email [email protected].

The latest from Sellout Crowd

  • Mr. Cowboy: How John Smith said goodbye to Oklahoma State wrestling

  • There’s time for NBA Playoff concerns. Now is the time for Thunder appreciation

  • Oklahoma's Kelly Maxwell (28) pitches during a college softball game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and BYU at Love's Field in Norman, Okla., Saturday, April 13, 2024. Oklahoma won 7-3.

    Why OU’s pitching staff would be sunk without Kelly Maxwell

  • Oct 7, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Da'Jon Terry (95) and defensive lineman Jordan Kelley (88) and linebacker Jaren Kanak (7) celebrate during the game between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Another sign the SEC era is upon us: Sooners’ practice-field trash talking

  • A year ago, Nick Martin, left, and Ollie Gordon were fighting for starting spots at Oklahoma State. Now, they are Cowboy stars. How they navigated that change should bode well for OSU next season. (Michael Lane illustration/Sellout Crowd. Photos by USA Today Sports)

    Ollie Gordon and Nick Martin: From faces in the crowd to faces of OSU

The latest from Sellout Crowd

  • Mr. Cowboy: How John Smith said goodbye to Oklahoma State wrestling

  • There’s time for NBA Playoff concerns. Now is the time for Thunder appreciation

  • Oklahoma's Kelly Maxwell (28) pitches during a college softball game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and BYU at Love's Field in Norman, Okla., Saturday, April 13, 2024. Oklahoma won 7-3.

    Why OU’s pitching staff would be sunk without Kelly Maxwell

  • Oct 7, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Da'Jon Terry (95) and defensive lineman Jordan Kelley (88) and linebacker Jaren Kanak (7) celebrate during the game between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Another sign the SEC era is upon us: Sooners’ practice-field trash talking

  • A year ago, Nick Martin, left, and Ollie Gordon were fighting for starting spots at Oklahoma State. Now, they are Cowboy stars. How they navigated that change should bode well for OSU next season. (Michael Lane illustration/Sellout Crowd. Photos by USA Today Sports)

    Ollie Gordon and Nick Martin: From faces in the crowd to faces of OSU