Apparently, South Florida coach Ken Eriksen is a fan of comparing OU to the New York Yankees.
One day after equating Keilani Ricketts' pitching and hitting skills to Babe Ruth, the South Florida coach compared the heart of the OU batting order of Lauren Chamberlain, Ricketts and Jessica Shults to the Yankees' lineup when that club dominated Major League Baseball in the 1990s.
“Who do you pitch around?” Eriksen said. “I mean, do you walk Chamberlain to get to Ricketts? Do you walk Ricketts to get to Shults? What do you do? The margin of error becomes smaller at this level against a great hitting team like that.”
RUSSELL RETURNS HOME
LSU senior catcher Morgan Russell, who is from Edmond Santa Fe, estimated at least 50 friends and family members attended Thursday's WCWS opener against California.
“It's really neat to come back here,” Russell said. “My high school career ended here at this stadium and I'll end my college career here. I got millions of texts leading up to this.”
LSU lost its opener 5-3, but Russell drove in two runs with a two-run single in the second that gave the Tigers an early 2-0 lead.
“That was a cool feeling,” Russell said. “To do that in front of my friends and family is something I'll always remember. I thank God for giving me this opportunity.”
SOUTH FLORIDA'S PITCHING A UNIQUE CHALLENGE
Something unique about Eriksen's coaching style is the way he frequently switches pitchers.
Starter Sara Nevins tossed 4 2/3 innings, while Lindsey Richardson was occasionally inserted throughout the game to finish with 1 1/3 innings. Sam Greiner also faced two batters in the sixth before Richardson was reinserted into the game.
“I haven't seen that before in the way that he does it,” OU coach Patty Gasso said. “I think it's pretty effective, but I think it's probably a little tough for a pitcher to really get in a groove when you're going in and out like that.
“But we had a game plan … we had a strategy for every pitcher that they were going to bring out. I think it's a very effective strategy for them, because it's tough to get settled on one pitcher. We knew it was coming, we were just sticking with what we know.”
NORRIS A WCWS VETERAN
Oklahoma senior Katie Norris is no stranger to the WCWS or Hall of Fame Stadium.
And it's not just because of the Sooners' trip last season. The Stillwater native has been to the WCW almost every year of her life.
“My grandparents had tickets,” Norris said. “They still have tickets. Every year I've come and watched at least a couple games. You work for this your whole life in a way. Now to actually be in a position to win it all is pretty great, really.”
Ricketts' only run allowed Thursday afternoon was an unearned run in the fourth. She has not given up an earned run in 33 innings pitched … OU's win snapped a four-game losing streak in the WCWS dating back to 2004 … Chamberlain's home run, her 28th of the season, moved her into ninth on the NCAA's all-time single-season home run list.