First Day Softball Action - Norman Regional

Sooners Rout Lehigh, Tulsa outlasts Oregon State in Opening Games of Norman NCAA Regional

NORMAN - In two games that were as different as night and day, two in-state rivals, Oklahoma University and Tulsa University, came away with wins Friday in the opening round of the NCAA Softball Regional at Marita Hynes Field on the campus of the University of Oklahoma.

By winning, OU and Tulsa will square off in Saturday’s first of three games at 1 pm. while Friday’s two losers, Oregon State and Lehigh, will oppose each other in an elimination game at 3:30 pm. The loser of Saturday’s first game will take on the winner of the day’s second game in an elimination game. The winner of Saturday’s final game will take on the winner of the day’s first game on Sunday at 1 p.m. with an if necessary game scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

In Friday’s first game, Tulsa finally got the monkey off its back by defeating Oregon State, 9-7, in 11 innings (3:32 minutes) to win its first game after four consecutive losses dating back to 1996 in the series between the two schools.

”Obviously very gratifying to pull that win out,” said Tulsa head coach John Bargfeldt.”My main message to the team was that I didn’t recognize them today. We made so many mistakes, defensively and base running, that I just didn’t recognize them. How we played that last inning, that’s the team I’ve been watching. Going after it, making outstanding plays, just two outstanding plays defensively in that last inning along the thing is, today it was out hitting. We fought back and put runs on the board when we needed to because we’re giving too many away.’’

Tulsa won its sixth game in a row and appeared to have the game locked up, leading 7-3 going into the bottom of the seventh. But Oregon State, now 34-22, rallied for four runs in the bottom of the inning to send the game into extra innings.

It remained that way until Tulsa scored twice in the top of the 11th inning on a one out two-run single by senior Jessica Stoelke, bringing across Skylaw Swanson, who had doubled to center field leading off the inning and  Lacey Middlebrooks, who got aboard on an infield single. After an out, Stoelke hit a single just inside the left field foul line for the game-winner.

Taking about her game-winner, Stoekle said, “It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten a hit in general. I think my last one was against Central Arkansas. I came up with a clutch hit. Thank God we played good defense, but it’s been a while. We’re all fighters and we’re all competitors. None of us like to lose. So it’s just waiting for the next pitch. We’ve been getting runners on base and we know we play solid defense. You just have to take it one pitch at a time and worry about the next inning.”

In the bottom of the 11th OSU got only one runner on with Lea Cavestany walking as Amy Creger, who hurled four innings, earned her 19th win of the season against five losses. Creger allowed one hit, walked four and fanned six in facing 17 batters. Middlebrooks went the first 11 innings for Tulsa, allowing seven runs (six earned) with six strikeouts and one walk.

Oregon State used three pitchers with Paige Hall, who hurled six innings, getting the loss (14-4). Marina Demore started and hurled two innings with Tina Andreana hurling three innings, allowing one run while striking out two and walking one.

Swanson and Caitlin Everett each had three hits apiece for Tulsa.  One of Swanson’s hits was a lead-off homer in the top of the seventh inning to give the Hurricane a 7-3 lead. It was her 10th homer of the year. Everett gave Tulsa an early 3-0 lead with a three-run triple to right in the second inning and she also had an RBI single in a three-run Tulsa fourth inning.

OSU’s Erin Guzy, Dani Gilmore, Cavestany and Hannah Bousha each had a pair of hits. Guzy’s two-run double and  Desiree Beltran’s two-run single accounted for all of the runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at 7-all and send it into extra innings. The Beavers stranded 13 runners, Tulsa 12.

In the nightcap, host Oklahoma disposed of Leigh in five innings, 19-3, with the Sooners smashing 17 hits and four home runs. The game was over in the second inning when OU exploded for 13 runs on 10 hits. The inning featured a grand slam homer by winning pitcher Keilani Ricketts (29-7) and a two-run blast by Katie Norris. It was Ricketts’ 15th homer of the season and Norris’ third homer. Ricketts also had a two-run triple to finish with six RBI to tie an OU postseason single game record.  Also hitting homers for the Sooners were Laura Chamberland in the first inning—a two-run blast over the  right center field—and Brittany Williams in the fourth inning—a solo round tripper.

Ricketts pitched the first three innings, fanning seven of nine batters before Michelle Gascoigne came on and hurled  one and one-third innings, allowing two hits and three runs, which came on Liz Lucas’ three-run homer, her sixth of the season. Gascoigne fanned the first batter to open the fifth inning before Patty Gasso replaced her with Kirsten Allen who struck out the last two batters to end the game via the run rule.

The 19 runs were the second most ever scored by an Oklahoma team in postseason action as OU tied regional records for RBIs (19) and home runs (4) as the four home runs gave OU 89 for the season to break the previous Big 12 single season record of 88 set by Texas in 2010.The 19 runs also matched a season high for OU who moved to 46-8 on the year while Lehigh fell to 40-18.

"This was a team that was very anxious to play. They just came out of the blocks and unloaded from the start," said OU Head Coach Patty Gasso. "It was really one of the most dominating performances I've seen from an OU team in every way, shape and form. I just thought the way they looked defensively and the way we were throwing the ball around. The way Keilani [Ricketts] looked on the mound, very dominating. Offensively there was not one really routine easy play that I felt or saw throughout the game. So I think what we're saying is we mean business and we want this as much as anybody out there."