Oklahoma tops Texas A&M in six innings to earn third run-rule win of season
NORMAN, Okla. -- Patience and power turned a one-run game into the top-seeded Oklahoma's 3rd run-rule win of the season as the Sooners opened play in the NCAA Super Regionals with a 10-2, six-inning win against 16th-seeded Texas A&M on Friday.
With the victory, Oklahoma (51-4) is just one win away from advancing to the Women's College World Series for the third year in a row and eighth time in program history.
"I'm just extremely proud of our team," associate head coach Melyssa Lombardi said. "It was a total team effort and I just felt all three aspects, offense, defense, and pitching, went really well. It was exciting to watch them play and get after it [Friday]."
The Sooners held just a 3-2 lead going to the bottom of the sixth, but a keen eye at the plate set the stage for a walk-off home run for the game's star.
Junior Brittany Williams led off the frame with a four-pitch walk from Aggies starter Mel Dumezich. With sophomore Jessica Vest on to run for Williams, junior Destinee Martinez laced a single into left field. Two batters later senior Brianna Turang reached on an infield single as shortstop Taran Tyler had no throw to make after fielding the grounder.
That brought sophomore Lauren Chamberlain to the plate, who coaxed a walk out of a full count to push the lead to 4-2. Fellow sophomore Georgia Casey followed and also drew a walk on a full-count pitch to plate Vest and make it 5-2 in favor of OU.
Dumezich's night was done after the walk to Casey as Lauren Ainsley came on in relief. Ainsley did not fare much better as she walked sophomore Shelby Pendley on four pitches and uncorked a wild pitch to allow Chamberlain to score.
With two runners on and one out, senior Keilani Ricketts stepped into the batters' box.
Ricketts struck out 13 batters, including the first five of the game, to equal a school Super Regional record. She allowed just three hits and two runs with one walk, mixing speeds and freezing batters with a knee-buckling changeup.
"I think we were just trying to set the tone early because we know that A&M has had great hitters all year long," Ricketts said. "I wanted to get ahead in the count because they were patient early in the game and I think that helped by setting the tone in the first two innings."
Ricketts punctuated her 30th win of the season with a walk-off home run to left field on a 3-2 pitch. It was the 13th of the year for Ricketts and 48th of her career, tying her sister Samantha for the fourth most in program history.
"Keilani [Ricketts] has a lot of experience on this team, and there's not a whole lot we need to tell her," Lombardi said. "We just have to get out of the way and let her do her thing. She had already had a couple of at-bats and got a base hit earlier in the game."