NORMAN — Game 2 of the Super Regional was a typical run-rule victory for the Oklahoma softball team, which beat the Texas A&M 8-0 in five innings.
OU's players, however, were not the same.
After a muddy rainout earlier this week where they were surrounded by smiling children and grieving parents who lost homes, friends and family, Oklahoma grew.
Sooners coach Patty Gasso saw how the devastation of Moore changed her team in No. 1-ranked Oklahoma's two victories over Texas A&M on Friday and Saturday to win the Super Regional and push them to their eighth Women's College World Series.
No. 3 hitter Shelby Pendley sat patiently in Game 2 on Saturday after she swung at balls in the dirt in Game 1 and never reached base. Her two home runs, a solo homer in the first and a three-run shot in the third, vaulted Oklahoma (52-4) over the Aggies (42-18).
It was Pendley's fifth multi-home run game of the season and the eighth of her career.
But the biggest change Gasso saw was in her No. 1 pitcher, Keilani Ricketts.
Sure, for the second straight day, Ricketts gave up just three hits and earned her 16th shutout of the season. Yes, she struck out seven in Game 2 to give her a two-game total of 20 strikeouts.
That's typical Ricketts, though.
What Gasso saw was a change in Ricketts' mentality. She was more relaxed, less stressed. She was pitching for a little girl who she once inspired.
Now Sydney Angle was inspiring her.
Sydney Angle was one of seven children who was killed at Plaza Towers Elementary. She was a softball player for the Bring It 04 team in Moore, and she once met Ricketts. A photo was taken of the two softball players, the one so clearly in awe of the other.
“When we had the rainout and we were able to spend time with that Bring It team and I just saw Keilani in a different place,” Gasso said, “just recognizing that people are so excited to see her. Kids that were probably not having much joy in the last couple days were feeling it around her. That meant something important to her.”
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