Oklahoma keeps rolling, blows past Big 12 rival Texas in WCWS play
OKLAHOMA CITY -- For the second consecutive game in the Women's College World Series, Oklahoma didn't panic when it fell behind early. Now, the Sooners are one step away from a return trip to the finals.
Down 2-0, the Sooners responded with a six-run third inning and eventually run-ruled Big 12 rival Texas 10-2 in five innings Saturday in a winners' bracket game.
Callie Parsons drove in three runs and Keilani Ricketts threw a three-hitter for Oklahoma (54-4), which won for the third time in four meetings this season against Texas. The Sooners will play Michigan, Arizona State or Washington on Sunday night, needing one win in two opportunities to advance to the best-of-three finals.
"Every game is the biggest game that you play, but this [winners' bracket] game is the biggest game there is, because it puts you in a position to have someone have to beat you twice," said Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso, whose team has outscored opponents 76-11 during the NCAA postseason. "I think right now with the way we're playing, that would be difficult for any team here to do."
Texas (50-9) will face Nebraska or Florida in an elimination game Sunday.
"They're a good ballclub," Texas head coach Connie Clark said. "We're a good ballclub. When you're facing teams at the World Series, you can't give them that many seams. We gave them a lot of extra opportunities [Saturday] by issuing free passes and a couple of very uncharacteristic errors."
Oklahoma fell behind 1-0 in its WCWS opener against Michigan before winning 7-1 and the Sooners followed a similar script Saturday.
Ricketts (33-1) hadn't given up a hit in the tournament until Stephanie Ceo and Brejae Washington singled to key a two-run third inning for the Longhorns. Texas would have scored more had Oklahoma center fielder Destinee Martinez not run down Mandy Ogle's two-out, bases-loaded blast to the warning track.
The Sooners quickly responded against Texas pitchers Blaire Luna (31-6) and Kim Bruins to seize control.
Ricketts started the rally with an RBI double. Parsons later delivered a one-out single to center field to score pinch-runner Erica Sampson and Brittany Williams. No. 9 batter Brianna Turang then bunted and Bruins' throw to first base instead sailed into right field, allowing Martinez, Parsons and the speedy Turang to score, making it 6-2.
"I definitely rushed the throw," Bruins said. "I had more time than I thought."
Oklahoma catcher Jessica Shults said the Sooners never worried when they fell behind.
"We know that our offense puts up a lot of runs," she said. "We're pretty good at answering when something doesn't go our way. We don't let things like that get to us."
Shults and Parsons each had an RBI single in a three-run fourth for the Sooners. In the fifth, Lauren Chamberlain led off with a triple -- right fielder Gabby Smith lost the ball in the sun -- and Georgia Casey singled to score Chamberlain and end the game.
"That was fun," Gasso said. "We enjoyed it very much - not necessarily because of the outcome or the amount of the score, because we respect Texas like nobody else. We were really feeling that this was going to be a major battle. We knew it right from the start. What was fun to see every single one of these players participate in a win. Everybody had a hand in helping."