Oklahoma’s series of setbacks that cost it the softball national championship began piling up in the bottom of the fourth inning Wednesday night.
Keilani Ricketts lost her shutout and control of the ball.
And after a 13-minute rain delay, the Sooners lost the momentum, the lead and, ultimately, the game.
Alabama beat Oklahoma 5-4 in Game 3 of the Women’s College World Series’ championship series, claiming the national title in a game defined by delays.
Scheduled for a 7 p.m. start, the first pitch wasn’t thrown until nearly 10.
“It was a weird day,” said OU coach Patty Gasso. “It’s the biggest game of my life, their lives, and we’re sitting in a locker room for three hours trying to figure out what to do to stay loose.”
The Sooners appeared just fine after the game got started, though. Keilani Ricketts was perfect in the circle the first two innings, striking out five of the first six hitters she faced.
To open the second, Ricketts blasted a solo home run down the right-field line, and freshman Lauren Chamberlain added a two-run shot in the third inning to open a 3-0 Sooners lead.
But in the fourth inning, the rain returned and made the ball slippery. Alabama pitcher Jackie Traina threw two wild pitches in the top of the fourth.
Then in the bottom of the inning, Alabama’s Kaila Hunt reached first on a single. Ricketts retired the next two batters, but Hunt advanced to second and third, and then scored, on three wild pitches.
Immediately following Alabama’s first run, umpires stopped play for the 13-minute delay.
“Honestly, I just wanted to pitch through it,” Ricketts said. “I wasn’t really focused on the rain. I didn’t realize it was affecting the way I was pitching, even though I was throwing a lot of wild pitches.”