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Oklahoma Opens 2012 WCWS With Win Over USF

Oklahoma's Keilani Ricketts. Courtesy of OU Athletic Media Relations.OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - The effective pitching of Keilani Ricketts and the bat of Lauren Chamberlain proved to be an powerful one-two punch for Oklahoma on Thursday, as they topped South Florida, 5-1, in the opening game of the 2012 Women’s College World Series at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.

Ricketts tossed a complete game three-hitter for the Sooners (51-8), allowing just one unearned run and striking out 11. The junior from San Jose, Calif. threw just 93 pitches in the contest compared to the 156 thrown by three different USF pitchers.

The strategy by South Florida (50-13) of alternating between Sara Nevins, Lindsay Richardson and Sam Greiner, while unique, proved to be something the Sooners were prepared for, according to head coach Patty Gasso.

“We had a game plan and a strategy for every pitcher they were going to bring out. I think it is a very effective strategy for them, because it is tough [for hitters] to really get settled on one pitcher. We knew it was coming, we just stuck with what we knew. “

Nevins was able to hold Oklahoma hitless through three innings, and thanks to a RBI-single from Kourtney Salvarola, she took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth. However, in the bottom of the frame, the Sooners broke up the no-hit bid in a big way with a leadoff single from Destinee Martinez and a home run from Chamberlain in the very next at-bat.

Chamberlain would double in her next plate appearance in the sixth inning and was driven in by Ricketts, who helped her own cause with a triple to the wall in left center. Oklahoma added two more runs later in the inning on a single from Brianna Turang and a bases loaded walk from Brittany Williams to cap the scoring at 5-1.

With the win Ricketts improved to 34-7 on the year, while Nevins took the loss for the Bulls an fell to 31-7.

Oklahoma will now play the winner of the day’s second game between California and LSU on Friday at 6 p.m. CT, while South Florida will take on the loser of the same game in an elimination contest on Saturday at 11 a.m.