OU softball notebook: Keilani Ricketts continues to dominate
Sooners' pitcher allows one earned run and five hits in 17 innings pitched. She also strikes out 27.
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.
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“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.”