How's this for a final stat line for Oklahoma ace Keilani Ricketts in the Norman Regional?
In 17 innings pitched, Ricketts allowed one earned run on five hits and struck out 27. In the process, she picked up her 29th, 30th and 31st victories in consecutive days.
“I thought she was really on her mark,” OU coach Patty Gasso said of Ricketts' performance Sunday. “I really loved what she did. She was ahead of hitters, kept them guessing. You could see them uncertain of what's coming and kept them very off-balance.”
Gasso said that she noticed Ricketts practically exhale when a grand slam by Jessica Shults in the top of the first inning gave the Sooners a 4-0 lead before Ricketts even took the circle. But the Sooner lefty also showed her ability to keep her team in the game during the weekend, when the OU offense did not break through against Tulsa until the sixth inning on Saturday.
Oregon State has seen a slew of strong pitching as a Pac-12 member. Beaver coach Kirk Walker compared Ricketts to California superstar Jolene Henderson, except for the key difference that Ricketts is left-handed. Oregon State center fielder Dani Gilmore added that Ricketts ranks right up with the nation's elite.
“She threw a great game,” Gilmore said. “A very well-respected pitcher. She did exactly what we thought she was going to do, and we did our best. Hats off to her.
“She has the speed and great movement. From my perspective, that lefty-lefty matchup, you don't see it a whole lot. It's definitely different seeing it from that angle.”
UP NEXT: ARIZONA
OU will next face Arizona in the super regionals after the Wildcats captured the Tucson Regional with an 8-3 victory over Notre Dame Sunday evening.
That's a rematch of last year's super regionals, when OU went to Tucson and beat the Wildcats twice on their home field to advance to the Women's College World Series.
“We know they're going to want their revenge,” Ricketts said. “They're going to be a very tough challenge for us. We've just got to stick to our game plan and just keep playing how we're playing.”
Walker has now seen both teams up close as an opposing coach and said he would give the Sooners the advantage because the series will be played in Norman.
“Oklahoma's tough here at Oklahoma,” he said. “So I would probably give them the edge, being here at home. It certainly will be a great super regional.”
SOONERS RESPOND WELL AFTER DELAYS
In two of OU's three regional games, the Sooners had to endure some sort of delay before taking the field.
On Friday, OU's first game against Lehigh started more than 90 minutes after it was scheduled to because the Oregon State-Tulsa game went 11 innings. On Sunday, rain delayed first pitch of the Sooners' contest against Oregon State for 21/2 hours.
The long waits did not seem to affect the focus of the Sooners, though, as they scored 15 runs in the first two innings Friday night against Lehigh and four runs in the first inning against Oregon State to help propel the Sooners to blowout victories in each contest.
“It's actually not so bad with this group, because they are just pretty easy (at figuring out how) to turn off and kind of relax and then turn back on,” Gasso said. “They know how to do that pretty well.
“I think the hardest part of all of this is just waiting. It creates a little bit of anxiety. Probably more anxiety for me than for them. They just enjoy themselves wherever they are.”
What did the Sooners do to pass the time Sunday? They went to eat lunch at Jason's Deli. And by a wacky coincidence, Oregon State showed up to eat there, too.
GASSO CALLS BASERUNNING ‘ATROCIOUS'
Gasso was very pleased overall with the way her Sooners swept through the Norman Regional.
Her one area of concern? Base running.
OU had three miscues on the base paths Sunday afternoon. Freshman Georgia Casey was thrown out at the plate in the first and fourth innings after running on contact from third base on a ground ball. Destinee Martinez was doubled up at first base on a pop-up to short in the second inning.
Casey was also caught in a rundown between third and home in the first inning of Saturday's contest against Tulsa.
“I thought it was atrocious,” Gasso said of the base running. “It ran us out of innings, and it really takes your momentum away and gives it to the other team. We talked about coming to practice this next week and really working on making better decisions and reacting in the proper way.
“We can't make those mistakes against Arizona, or it's going to end up shooting us in the foot.”