Keilani Ricketts tossed her 37th career shutout.
Oklahoma Athletics

NORMAN, Okla. -- No. 4 Oklahoma scored in five of its six innings at bat to cruise to an opening-game win against Arizona 6-0 Saturday in the start of a best-of-three super regional. The win moved Oklahoma to 49-8 on the year and just one win away from its seventh trip to the Women’s College World Series. Arizona fell to 38-18 on the year with the loss.

The game was a complete team effort at the plate as seven different Oklahoma batters accounted for the team’s eight hits while three acquired four walks and three others were hit by a pitch. In the field, the Sooners turned the game’s only double play as they stranded 10 Arizona runners on base throughout the game.

Keilani Ricketts got the start in the circle for the Sooners and threw a complete game shutout, her 14th shutout of the year and the 37th of her career. Ricketts struck out nine Wildcats while allowing just two walks and seven hits as she moved to 32-7 on the year. Shelby Babcock took the loss for Arizona to fall to 21-10 on the season as she gave up eight hits and four walks in a complete-game effort. Three Oklahoma batters were hit by Babcock pitches in the game.

“I thought overall we played a very, very strong game. I felt like this team, offensively, had a good approach,” OU head coach Patty Gasso said. “We just stayed on it. I felt a little bit of nerves from some of our younger players, but as the game went on I could see they were starting to get over it. Overall, I thought it was a fantastic game on the mound. To be able to shut out a team like Arizona is really special because they are such a dynamic offense. It was just a well-played overall game.”

The Sooners jumped out to an early lead with two runs in the first as the first three Oklahoma batters reached safely. The leadoff batter, Georgia Casey, took the only pitch she saw on the arm and advanced to first base. She moved to second when Destinee Martinez laid down a sacrifice bunt attempt that she reached safely on. With two runners on, the second freshman in first three spots of the lineup, Lauren Chamberlain laced a double into right center to bring home both Casey and Martinez and put OU up 2-0.

Oklahoma struck again in the second inning as Chamberlain once again provided another RBI. Brianna Turang led things off with a walk before stealing second. After Javen Henson became the second Sooner to be hit by a pitch, Martinez singled up the middle loaded the bases for Chamberlain who walked on seven pitches to bring in Turang for OU’s third run.

OU continued its scoring streak in the third inning as the Sooners loaded the bases for the second consecutive inning. Jessica Shults led off with a double before she was replaced on the base path by Ali Vandever. After an OU strikeout, Turang beat out a sacrifice bunt attempt to put runners on the corners with one out for Katie Norris who walked after Turang stole second. With the bases loaded, Henson poked a single up the middle of the Arizona defense to send Turang home for the second time of the game.

After Oklahoma failed to score in the fourth, Norris sent her fourth home run of the season over the left field fence to give Oklahoma a 5-0 lead. The solo shot came on Babcock’s 100th pitch of the game and was the first pitch that Norris saw on the appearance at the plate.

Ricketts helped her own cause in the sixth as she stepped to the plate with two outs and no runners on and sent her 16th home run of the season over the left-center fence for Oklahoma’s sixth and final run.