Oklahoma 2, Oregon 1

May 22, 2005

NORMAN, Okla. -- The Oklahoma softball team (50-15) claimed its sixth consecutive regional championship with a 2-1 win over Oregon on Sunday afternoon at the OU Softball Complex. The Sooners will have to go through Regional 3 Champions Arizona for the second consecutive season in their quest for a Women's College World Series berth.

"This club battled. This region was tough for all teams that aren't used to this weather this early," said OU head coach Patty Gasso. "It really took a toll on a lot of us. I congratulate Oregon for an outstanding regional and for fighting us so hard. They kept fighting. They are a tough team. Their pitchers did a good job."

OU head coach Patty Gasso has worked magic with her Sooners squads in the regional format. OU is 23-1 since 2000 and went 3-0 in Regional 14 play this season.

The key to the weekend and in many ways the season for the Sooners was early scoring. OU scored in the first inning of all three games and improved its season record to 32-2 when they score in the opening frame.

"This Oklahoma team keeps showing what they are made of by coming out and scoring early," said Gasso. "Norrelle Dickson is a big part of that by creating things. Kristin Vesely does a great job following her."

On Sunday, the Sooners posted two runs although neither was driven home in the traditional matter.

The Sooners executed a flawless double steal for the initial score. OU's Kristin Vesely headed to second, while Norrelle Dickson raced for home as the Oregon catcher threw down to the Duck shortstop, who cut the throw but wasn't in time to the plate. Dickson needed a perfect sweep slide to avoid the tag and score safely.

The second run can be credited to Oregon left fielder Lovena Chaput, who botched a Heather Scaglione single to allow Vesely to score from second.

The two runs were all that ace Kami Keiter needed. The senior worked seven innings and allowed six hits. She stranded eight Oregon runners and struck out the same number of batters.

She worked all 21 innings for OU this weekend and posted a 3-0 record with a 1.33 ERA. She improved to 32-6 on the season and 22-11 in postseason play.

"Kami Keiter is a champion," said Gasso. "She loves to compete and loves being in pressure situations. She had some big strikeouts for us today. She knows how to dig in when it's time and battle through the elements to get it done. That has been Kami Keiter's career here."

The Sooners will practice in Norman on Tuesday and depart for Tucson on Wednesday. Play in the Tucson Super Regional (May 27-28) will consist of a best-of-three series with one game Friday and the possibility of two on Saturday.

OU and Arizona met in the Regional 1 Championships last season and the Sooners took the title and snapped the Wildcats' NCAA record WCWS streak at 16. This season OU fell to Arizona 4-0 in action at the KIA Klassic on March 19. That loss snapped the Sooners school record winning streak at 29 games.

Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso
On the game:
"This club battled. This region was a tough region for all teams that aren't used to this weather this early. It really took a toll on a lot of us. I congratulate Oregon for an outstanding regional and for fighting us so hard. They kept fighting. They are a tough team. Their pitchers did a good job. This Oklahoma team keeps showing what they are made of by coming out and scoring early. Norrelle Dickson is a big part of that by creating things. Kristin Vesely does a great job following her."

On Kami Keiter:
"Kami Keiter is a champion. She loves to compete and loves being in pressure situations. She had some big strikeouts for us today. She knows how to dig in when it's time and battle through the elements to get it done. That has been Kami Keiter's career here."

On the first inning:
"This time of the season, we talk about how it doesn't matter how it looks, whether it's pretty or just a bloop, just as long as it gets done. We were trying to find ways to attack and get runs early. Oregon may have been a little bit depleted from yesterday, but they were still making good plays. However it happened, that's what we are after, whether it's an RBI or an error. Norrelle Dickson's slide was great and opened up the scoring and then a tough play by their left fielder kept us going."

Oklahoma third baseman Norrelle Dickson
On OU's offense:
"I knew that I had to get on and produce some offense. I thought they played me awfully tough. I just had to keep battling throughout the game. Kristin Vesely and I just want to put it in play and make things happen."

Oklahoma pitcher Kami Keiter
On her performance:
"I felt them pressuring me and attacking me. They are great hitters throughout the lineup. I felt their pressure, but I also felt what was working for me. I was effective with my rise ball, so I felt like I also had an edge too."

Oregon head coach Kathy Arendsen
On the game:
"What a game, obviously incredibly disappointing. Giving up those two early runs was very difficult. I am incredibly proud of our comeback. We kept putting pressure on their defense and couldn't quite crack it but I'm really proud of the way our kids played."

On OU's defense:
"We made some adjustments. Kami is a very, very good pitcher, but I thought we were starting to hit the ball pretty hard. I never thought we were going to lose. I thought in the seventh inning we were going to pull out not one, but two runs. I thought our players did a great job of making adjustments, putting people on, forcing Kami to make big pitches, and she did. I give her credit for it.

-- Courtesy Oklahoma