OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – A powerful offense has been one of the major trademarks of top-seeded Oklahoma’s squad all throughout the 2013 campaign.
That Sooner offensive juggernaut was on full display at the Women’s College World Series on Saturday afternoon at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla., as OU rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the top of the third to post a commanding 10-2 (5 inn.) victory over fourth-seeded Texas in its “Red River Rivalry” duel.
Seven different Oklahoma players registered a hit in the contest, led by right fielder Callie Parsons’ 2-for-3 effort with three RBIs and a 2-for-3 performance from center fielder Destinee Martinez. Second baseman Georgia Casey walked three times while going 1-for-1 with two runs scored and a RBI, catcher Jessica Shults contributed a 1-for-2 day with a RBI, pitcher Keilani Ricketts (1-for-3) doubled in a run and designated player Brittany Williams added a sacrifice fly. In the circle Ricketts permitted two runs on three hits over five frames with four walks and a pair of strikeouts in earning her 33rd win of the year.
“That was fun,” Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso said. “We enjoyed it very much, not necessarily because of the outcome of 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. But what was fun is to see every single one of these players participate in the win, whether they're starters or not. Everybody had a hand in helping create a rally or drive in runs or make big plays. Everybody had a part in it, and I was extremely proud to see this team fight. Early on, not getting panicked by the fact that Texas came out and scored early and scored two early. We just kind of took our time and were patient and created some momentum and tried to stay aggressive. It seemed to work out really well.”
Blaire Luna suffered the loss for the Longhorns, falling to 31-6 overall after giving up three earned runs on three hits with five walks and two K’s over just 2.0 innings. Center fielder Brejae Washington (1-for-3) and designated player Kim Bruins (0-for-2) contributed Texas’ lone RBIs in the match-up, while third baseman Taylor Hoagland doubled as part of a 1-for-2, run-scored effort and second baseman Stephanie Ceo went 1-for-2.
Ricketts picked up against Texas right where she left off from her no-hitter on Thursday night versus Michigan. The Sooner hurler retired the Longhorns in order in the top of the first on consecutive groundouts from third baseman Taylor Hoagland and center fielder Brejae Washington and a strikeout of shortstop Taylor Thom.
With one out in the bottom of the first, Oklahoma second baseman Georgia Casey managed the first base runner of the contest for either squad via walk, eventually moving into scoring position on a groundout. Texas’ Luna got the better of her counterpart in the circle, however, by striking out Ricketts on a 3-2 offering as the Sooner offense left the runner stranded.
The Crimson & Cream threatened more seriously during the bottom of the second as catcher Jessica Shults walked and center fielder Destinee Martinez singled on the infield with one out. Following a groundout from right fielder Callie Parsons that advanced the runners up 60 feet, left fielder Brianna Turang drew a free pass to pack the bags for the Sooners’ leading home run hitter Chamberlain. Luna won the high-profile battle, however, by striking out the power hitter on a 1-2 offering as OU left the bases loaded.
First baseman Karina Scott became the initial Longhorn base runner of the match-up through drawing a leadoff walk to christen the top of the third. With sub Rachel Scott at second following a theft, Ceo got a serious threat going by chopping a single through the drawn-in infield and racing into scoring position as a throw home kept Scott stationed 60 feet from pay dirt. The base knock by Ceo broke Ricketts’ string of 9.1 innings without allowing a hit at the 2013 WCWS. The dangerous Hoagland was intentionally walked to set up a force at every base for the Sooner defense, but Washington took advantage of the situation by blooping a RBI single to left as the ‘Horns nabbed a quick 1-0 lead. With two retired the advantage expanded to a pair of tallies as Bruins battled Ricketts for a bases-loaded free pass, permitting Hoagland to cross with the second run of the contest. Things could have gotten even worse for the Sooners on a liner to right center off the bat of catcher Mandy Ogle, but Martinez raced over into the gap and made an incredible running catch to end the assault.
The Sooner offense immediately looked to provide a response as Casey walked and third baseman Shelby Pendley singled through the right side of the infield. Ricketts stepped to the plate with a chance to help her efforts in the circle and did just that with a RBI double down the right field line as Casey scored to cut the deficit to 2-1. A walk to designated player Brittany Williams ended Luna’s stint in the circle as Bruins entered in a relief appearance. The new hurler got two quick outs on a strikeout of Shults and a fielder’s choice by Martinez but that’s when Oklahoma’s offense exploded. Parsons provided the big blow as her single through the left side of the infield plated both Williams and pinch runner Erica Sampson as OU nabbed its first lead of the game at 3-2. Turang followed with an innocuous bouncer back to the circle that was fielded by Bruins but thrown wide of first for an error. On the miscue the ball ended up rolling down into the right field corner, allowing not just Parsons and Martinez to score easily, but Turang to completely circle the bases as the advantage expanded to 6-2,
With Ricketts having rebounded from her one bad inning to retire Texas in order in the top of the fourth, Oklahoma kept its foot on the offensive pedal during the bottom half. Walks to Casey and Pendley starting the frame and a pair of one-out stolen bases christened the onslaught. Williams lifted a sacrifice fly to right to plate Casey for a 7-2 lead. From there it was a Shults RBI single, a hit by Martinez and a RBI base knock from Parsons back through the middle that improved the lead to seven tallies. New Texas pitcher Holly Kern successfully got Turang to ground out to short to end the outburst but not before the Crimson & Cream had added three runs on the scoreboard.
Texas attempted to battle back in the top of the fifth as Hoagland blasted a one-out double to left center and Thom walked with two retired, placing a pair aboard. Ricketts responded to the threat, however, by inducing a pop-up to short off the bat of Bruins as the ‘Horns left the duo stranded on the base paths.
Bidding to end the contest via run-rule in the bottom of the fifth, Chamberlain opened the frame by blasting a high drive to right center. The ball didn’t have enough power to leave the yard, but appeared to get lost in the sun by Texas right fielder Erin Shireman as it dropped in play allowing Chamberlain to race into third with a leadoff triple. Casey quickly took advantage of the opportunity to end the match-up with a RBI base knock to right center as OU prevailed, 10-2 (5 inn.).