Keilani Ricketts wanted to run.
Standing on first with her team needing some insurance runs Monday night, she tried her darnedest to convince Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso that she should steal second. Now, two things you need to know about this scenario. First, Ricketts isn't exactly known for her fleet feet. Second, Gasso was in the third base coach's box, so how Ricketts was sending her messages is anyone's guess.
Gasso was having none of it.
“So, I was like, ‘OK, I guess I should steal,'” Ricketts said.
And steal she did.
On a night when OU defeated Alabama 4-1 and took the first game of the best-of-3 national championship series at the Women's College World Series, Ricketts outdid herself. Sure, she's the National Player of the Year in college softball. Yes, she's had all sorts of big games during her career.
But she saved her best for the biggest stage.
Ricketts and the Sooners now stand one victory from a national championship. Beat the Crimson Tide on Tuesday night, and the Sooners will claim the program's second national title. OU's chances seem good as long as Ricketts is in Sooner crimson instead of Tide crimson.
“She's just a tremendous athlete who wants to compete and wants to win,” Gasso said. “Kelani overall was very, very good.”
It started, of course, in the pitching circle. The Sooners' big lefty continued her postseason domination.
Her line: one earned run, five hits and a dozen strikeouts in seven innings.
She got better as the night went on — and it wasn't like she was bad early. She struck out seven in the first four innings and allowed only three hits.
But with a couple hit batters, a wild pitch, a walk and an error, she had to do some serious work to keep the Crimson Tide at bay. It wasn't always pretty, but after a fourth inning, when she allowed a run, she surrendered only two more hits the rest of the way.