WCWS notebook: Sooners return with more experience
The Sooners were back at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium Wednesday morning, reminded of their last Women's College World Series trip. That trip didn't last long. The Sooners went two-and-out.
The Sooners were back at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium Wednesday morning, reminded of their last Women's College World Series trip.
That trip didn't last long.
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The Sooners went two-and-out.
“The difference is last year our biggest goal was to get to the World Series,” said pitcher/designated hitter Keilani Ricketts. “We had a lot of struggles going into postseason. We didn't have our main players playing in position.”
OU juggled its lineup last year after Jessica Shults suffered an extremely rare genetic disease that affects the body's digestive system.
This time the Sooners are healthy and have momentum, going 19-3 the past seven weeks.
“Last year wasn't exactly how we wanted to end it,” said OU designated hitter Katie Norris said. “It was kind of a big deal last year just to get here, but this year we're looking to win it.”
TENNESSEE'S ‘GOOD LUCK' FAN
Katie Henschel, a former All-District high player in Michigan, became a Tennessee fan watching former All-American pitcher Monica Abbott. UT coaches Karen and Ralph Weekly have invited Henschel to hang around the program after receiving an email from Henschel's mother in March.
Henschel's dream of playing college softball ended last summer after she suffered multiple injuries in a car accident. She nearly lost her left leg from trauma, was in a coma for 18 days, underwent several brain surgeries and spent nearly three months in rehab.
The Weeklys invited Henschel to attend the Kentucky series two months ago, and she's brought good luck since then. The Volunteers won on Shelby Burchell's two-run, walk-off home run. Henschel also attended last weekend's Super Regionals. The Weeklys have promised Henschel a role with the program next year if she enrolls at Tennessee.
INJURY A BLESSING IN DISGUISE
No. 1-ranked California (56-5) last season played without senior first baseman Valerie Arioto, who broke her left leg sliding into second base on the second day of practice in January.
“I was a little bummed. It was a bad experience,” Arioto said. “Looking back, I couldn't imagine doing anything different. I got the chance to see the game from a different perspective and learn from it, just watch games.”
Arioto leads the Bears in home runs (23), RBIs (60) and runs (65).
“Last year we thought ‘Why did this injury happen to her?'” said Cal coach Diane Ninemire. “Now we know why. It gives us the opportunity to have a much stronger team here at the World Series.”
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