OU should play for the state, not just the Sooner Nation

In a time of recovery, wouldn't it beat great for the entire state if pitching ace Keilani Ricketts, steely coach Patty Gasso and the Sooners could win a national title?
by Jenni Carlson Published: May 27, 2013

Keilani, we know this will be a lot to ask.

Patty, we realize this will add pressure to what's already a pressure-packed situation.

But to you and the entire Oklahoma softball team, we want to ask a favor as you head to the Women's College World Series later this week.

Play for our state.

The past week or so has been difficult around here. Monster tornadoes ripped apart homes and lives and hearts. Nothing will change that, especially not what a team does on a diamond or a field.

But wouldn't it be great for the entire state if pitching ace Keilani Ricketts, steely coach Patty Gasso and the Sooners could win a national title?

It would be a feel-good story at a time we need all of those that we can get.

The Sooners would've been a pretty nice story even if those dreadful storms hadn't rolled through last week. They advanced to the best-of-3 championship series a year ago, even won the first game and put themselves in the driver's seat against Alabama. But then, Ricketts struggled a bit, the bats went a little cold and the Crimson Tide roared back and won the series.

The Sooners have played this season like they're on a mission to do the one thing they didn't a year ago. They've lost just four games all year. They've won 24 of 52 games by run rule, including four of five in the postseason.

They've dominated.

They are the team to beat this week at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.

Good for the Sooners.

Good for the state, too.

This isn't the Thunder, of course. Those guys unite this state like no team ever has. They bring together Sooners and Cowboys, crimson and orange. Can you imagine what a statewide pick-me-up it would be if the Thunder was in the Western Conference Finals right now?

But they've already checked in their jerseys for the summer.

So, we turn to the Sooner softballers.

Sure, the Oklahoma and Oklahoma State baseball teams made the NCAA Tournament, but they are a long ways from a championship. A long ways from home, too.

OU softball is only five wins from a title, and the Sooners are going after it right here on home soil. Every time they travel from Norman to Hall of Fame Stadium this week, they will cross the path destruction left by the tornado in Moore.

Of course, they will have an even more constant reminder of that storm.

Sydney Angle was one of the third graders killed at Plaza Towers Elementary, and her favorite thing to do was play softball. The Sooners met her family late last week, then wore her initials and her softball number on their batting helmets during the super regional.

They played for her.

If it's not too much to ask, Sooners, could you play this week for the entire state?

This will be another tough week in Moore and other communities hit by last week's storms. There is still much to clean up, much to sift through, much to do.

Now, though, is the time the awareness of that need will start to fade. The national news organizations will move on to the next terrible tragedy. The public's attention will turn to the next big story. That's the kind of short-attention-span world that we live in.

But Sooners, if you keep winning, it will help remind people of what our state is going through.

Television will show footage of the destruction. Pundits will talk about the devastation. People inside and outside our state will realize that the need still exists for money, for volunteers, for prayer, for help of any kind.

The Sooners can do wonders both inside and outside Oklahoma with a great run through the Women's College World Series. Winning for the entire state is a lot to ask, but you get the feeling the Sooners are up to the task.

“We're just trying to be strong for Oklahoma,” Ricketts said during the super regional.

“We're definitely building off the strength we see here.”

The feeling is mutual.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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