Oklahoma blanks top-seeded Cal
Ricketts tosses complete game shutout to lead Sooners to win
OKLAHOMA CITY -- USA Softball Collegiate Player of the year Keilani Ricketts turned a performance worthy of that award on Friday evening at the Women’s College World Series as Oklahoma defeated top seed California, 3-0.
Oklahoma (51-8) advances to Sunday’s semifinals, where the Sooners will need to win once in order to advance to Monday’s NCAA Championship Series. The Golden Bears (57-6) fall to the losers bracket and will play next on Saturday against the Tennessee-Oregon winner.
Ricketts turned in a dominating performance with 16 strikeouts in seven innings, scattering two hits and walking two.
|WOMEN'S COLLEGE WORLD SERIES|
June 1 Highlights
Alabama 2, Arizona State 1
Oklahoma 3, California 0
Getting to Know
• LSU | UC | USF | OU | UO | ASU | UT | UA
• LSU’s long, winding road
• Two better than one for Bears
• How a Kiwi changed the Ducks
• Bulls following plan to the letter
• Previewing the Women's College World Series
In a battle between two top pitchers, Cal’s Jolene Henderson and Oklahoma’s Keilani Ricketts battled back and forth in the early innings, but Ricketts proved to be more adept at getting out of jams.
Cal had a pair of base runners in the bottom of the second inning as Frani Echavarria led off by drawing one of just two walks issued by Ricketts, and second baseman Jace Williams connected on an infield single to put Echavarria into scoring position, but the pair was unable to advance.
After earning runners in scoring position but not pushing across a run in either of the first two innings, the top of the third saw OU capitalize on two walks issued by Henderson. With the top of the lineup leading off the inning, Georgia Casey drew a walk and went to second on a Destinee Martinez single through the left side of the infield, setting up Lauren Chamberlain for an RBI double to right centerfield.
The Sooners continued to apply pressure in the fourth, as Ricketts walked to load the bases, but the Golden Bears were able to record two consecutive fielders choice outs at the plate before a ground out ended the inning and the threat, escaping with just a 1-0 deficit after the top of the third.
Oklahoma added a second run in the top of the fourth inning thanks to more California miscues. Katie Norris was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and Javen Henson reached on a fielding error, advancing pinch-runner Jessica Vest to second. Henderson got the next two batters to fly out to left field, but Lauren Chamberlain ripped a single up the middle to load the bases before Ricketts drew a bases-loaded walk to give OU the 2-0 lead after three and a half innings.
An insurance run was added in the sixth inning as Casey cranked a full-count pitch over the centerfield fence to make the score 3-0.
Cal threatened in the bottom of the sixth, as Jamia Reid led off the inning by reaching on an error, but Britt Vonk was hit by her batted ball while outside of the box for the first out of the inning. After Reid stole second base, Valerie Arioto was intentionally walked, and Reid took third while Arioto trotted to first base. Ricketts then responded with two more strikeouts, her 14th and 15th, to end the inning and the threat.
The Golden Bears found one more hit in the bottom of the seventh, off the bat Victoria Jones, but were unable to mount a serious threat.
• Fourth-seeded Oklahoma defeated top seed Cal, marking the first upset of the 2012 WCWS
• Friday’s win was the 10th consecutive victory for the Sooners, extending the nation’s longest current streak.
• This was the fifth meeting between Cal and Oklahoma at the WCWS with Cal winning three of the last four. The only other WCWS victory for OU against the Golden Bears came in 2000, the year the Sooners went on to win the program’s lone NCAA Championship.
• The 16 strikeouts recorded tonight by Keilani Ricketts is two shy of the single-game WCWS record for a seven-inning game. Cat Osterman (Texas) set the record with 18 K’s vs. Arizona State in 2006.