TUCSON, Ariz. – Ninth-seeded Oklahoma scored four of its six runs with two outs as the Sooners (42-17) shut out eighth-seeded Arizona 6-0 on Friday. evening in front of 2,698 fans at Hillenbrand Stadium. Oklahoma starter Keilani Ricketts (28-13) went the distance for the 30th time this year and threw her 23rd career shutout in the win. Ricketts allowed seven hits and two walks while striking out 13.
After Kenzie Folwer retired eight straight Oklahoma batters to start the game, Cierra Hughes lifted the ball over Lauren Schutzler’s head in center to reach on a two-out double. Destinee Martinez then reached on an error to give the Sooners runners at the corners. OU’s hot hitter from the Norman Regional, Brianna Turang then scored Hughes by placing the ball in shallow left field as the Sooners led 1-0 through three.
Arizona threatened in the bottom half of the inning. Brittany Lastrapes got a two-out single off Ricketts glove and Schutzler followed with an infield single before Bridget Del Ponte drew her second walk of the game to load the bases. Stacie Chambers grounded out to Ricketts to end the inning.
Brittany Williams walked to lead off the fourth and Chana’e Jones placed a slap hit just inside the left field line to advance pinch runner Ali Vandever to second and put two runners on. Dani Dobbs walked to load the bases and a sacrifice fly from Katie Norris scored Vandever to give OU a 2-0 lead. Martinez then singled to score Jones and Dobbs. Martinez then scored from first when Turang put the ball past an outstretched Lastrapes in left center to push the lead to 5-0.
Arizona got runners in scoring position in the bottom of the fourth when Kristin Arriola put a single into right center and Karissa Buchanan singled to short, but Ricketts got a strikeout and groundout to end the inning.
OU loaded the bases in the fifth after Ricketts was hit by a pitch and pinch runner Haley McGregor advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Vandever. Jones and Dobbs drew back-to-back walks to load the bases but the Sooners grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The Wildcats tried to answer in the bottom of the sixth with another bases loaded threat. Lini Koria singled to right field with one out and an Arriola’s single to left center put two runners on board. Buchanan reached on an error to load the bases. Alex Lavine grounded into a fielder’s choice that resulted in the inning’s second out and Bailey Kirker was called out looking at strike three to end the inning.
Ricketts added to the offensive action in the top of the seventh with a home run off the wall off the Gittings Building behind the right center field fence. It was Ricketts’ seventh blast of the year and pushed the Sooners in front 6-0.
The Wildcats threatened a comeback one last time in the bottom of the seventh. Lastrapes reached on a hit by pitch and an infield single from Schutlzer gave Arizona speed on the base paths. Lastrapes used that speed to advance to third on a fly out by Del Ponte but Ricketts struck out Chambers looking and got Koria to fly out to center to end the game.
Turang led Oklahoma with a 3 for 4 showing at the plate. OU’s 1-2 hitters, Turang and Martinez, drove in four of Oklahoma’s six runs. Jones went 2 for 3. The Sooners manufactured all six runs and recorded five of their eight hits with two outs in addition to the four runs scored with two outs.
Schutzler and Arriola had two hits each for the Wildcats. Fowler went 4.0 innings, allowing five runs, four of them earned, on five hits. Fowler walked two and struck out four before giving way to Shelby Babcock in the fifth. Babcock pitched the final 3.0 innings and gave up the home run to Ricketts. She allowed three hits and two walks.