Posted: May 26, 2012 3:21 PM
NORMAN, Okla. -- No. 4 Oklahoma punched a ticket to its seventh Women's College World Series with a 7-1 win over Arizona Saturday in its second consecutive NCAA Super Regional sweep of the Wildcats. Oklahoma will open play at the WCWS Thursday against the winner of the Hofstra-South Florida Super Regional. The NCAA is expected to name game times for Thursday on Sunday evening.
OU moved to 50-8 on the year, its eighth season with at least 50 wins, as it swept Arizona in the Super Regional to advance to the WCWS for the second consecutive year. Arizona fell to 38-19 on the year as Oklahoma upped its Super Regional record against Arizona to 5-4 while its overall postseason record against the U of A improved to 7-5.
The Sooners finished the day with 10 hits, its 15th game this season with at least 10 hits, and two home runs, its 27th game this year with multiple home runs.
Keilani Ricketts got the start for Oklahoma in the circle and turned in one of the most dominant performances of her career, at one point striking out nine straight Arizona batters to retire the side in the second, third and fourth innings. In all, Ricketts struck out 13 Wildcats, her 23rd double-digit strikeout game of the season and the 60th of her career. The junior, who is a finalist for the USA Softball Player of the Year Award, allowed just one walk on the day while giving up just three hits.
"I just can't tell you how proud I am of this team to have come so far and work so hard to get here and knowing that we're playing our best softball right now," said OU Head Coach Patty Gasso. "To know what's ahead of us and know that we're playing our best right now is really, really exciting. You didn't see a lot of dog piling out there and I think it's because this team knows that there is going to be one dog pile that they're going to save it for and that's in Oklahoma City. It's almost the expectation, hey let's get this done and move forward. They came out ready to play from the start, loose and comfortable, on fire."
Despite playing as the visiting team on its home field, Oklahoma jumped out to an early lead for the second straight game as the first seven OU batters reached base safely to give the Sooners five runs. Georgia Casey led off the day with a walk before advancing to second on a wild pitch. Oklahoma had runners on the corners for Lauren Chamberlain after Destinee Martinez legged out a single to the pitcher.
A Chamberlain walk loaded the bases for Ricketts who singled to left center to bring home Casey before Jessica Shults walked to bring in Martinez. Erica Sampson picked up an RBI when she was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to plate Chamberlain. After Brianna Turang reached on a fielder's choice with Ricketts being thrown out at home, an error from Arizona's third baseman Brigette Del Ponte allowed both Shults and Sampson to scamper home.
The 5-0 score remained the same until the fifth inning when Shults led off the inning with a solo shot, her 19th home run of the season and the 53rd of her career.
Not to be outdone in the sixth inning, Chamberlain, the Big 12 single season record holder in home runs, added a solo shot of her own over the left field fence to extend Oklahoma's lead to seven runs. Chamberlain's 27 home runs this season stands in a tie for 11th all-time in NCAA single-season history.
Arizona picked up its lone run of the Super Regional in the sixth when an error from Javen Henson at third base for Oklahoma allowed Karissa Buchanan to reach home.
(Courtesy: Oklahoma Athletics)
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