Oklahoma and Oregon State Advance in Norman Regional

Oklahoma and Oregon State advance to Norman Regional Championship

NORMAN, OK –After scoring 19 runs in its NCAA Regional opener against Lehigh, the University of Oklahoma Sooners almost went from feast to famine against the University of Tulsa Saturday afternoon at Marita Hynes Field at the OU Softball Complex.

Through the first five innings, the Sooners trailed 1-0 after Tulsa scored in the second inning on Jessica Stoelke’s RBI ground-out, bringing home Skylar Swanson, who had opened the inning with a single, advanced to second on a walk and went to third on a sacrifice. Patty Gasso, OU head coach, however, knew it was only a question of time before the OU offense came alive. And in the sixth inning the OU offense did come alive, scoring six times on six hits before adding another run in the seventh for a 7-1 win over Tulsa to send the Sooners into Sunday’s championship game against Oregon State at 1 p.m. (Central Standard time).

Oregon  State posted two wins Saturday to gain the championship final, eliminating Lehigh  9-2, then holding off a last-inning Tulsa rally for a 2-1 win. Oregon State enters the game 36-22 with OU 47-8.

Gasso knew the Tulsa win didn’t come easy and said so in the post-game press conference.  “I would start with a heavy exhale first,” said Gasso. “It was a tight game. This team did not panic. We might have been pressing a little. But we did not panic. Stay with the process. It’s going to happen, and it did.”

OU, which is seeking its seventh trip to the WCWS, got another outstanding pitching performance from Keilani Ricketts, who allowed only three hits to keep the Sooners in the game until the offense got going. She fanned 10 batters including seven in a row at one point and it was the 20th time this season she has achieved 10 or more strikeouts in a game. She’s now 30-7.

“We were down, but we were really composed,” said Ricketts. “That relaxed us when we were up at the plate.”

OU, however, had its chances early against Tulsa, losing a potential run in the first inning on an interference call against Georgia Casey, running into a double play in the second and leaving two runners on base in the fourth inning. OU advanced a runner to third in the fifth inning before unloading on Tulsa losing pitcher Lacey Middlebrooks (20-6) in the sixth inning. Through five innings the Sooners had only three hits but broke out in the sixth with Erica Sampson and Katie Norris hitting two-run singles, Jessica Shults an RBI double and Casey an RBI double.

After Norris’ single, Tulsa replaced Middlebooks in the circle with Kalynn Schrock who hurled the remainder of the game, allowing one hit and one run while walking one and striking out none.

After hitting four homers in its opening game, OU didn’t hit any Saturday. Said Gasso, ”Everybody loves the home run. But I enjoyed this. Watching them move runners around the base paths. It’s fun to move your arm in the coaching box. They were very aware they did this without the home run ball.”

Gasso is hoping the Sooners come out quicker in Sunday’s championship game against the Beavers, who have a pitching staff of four and won’t hesitate in using them depending on the situation.  Against Tulsa, for example, OSU coach Kirk Walker started Tina Andreana, who walked Caitlin Everett to open the game, then issued two balls to Jill Barrett.  After the second ball, Walker went to the mound and brought in Marina Demore, who allowed five hits and one run in six innings against the Golden Hurricane. The only run she allowed came on a solo two-out solo homer by second baseman Skylar Swanson over the center field fence in the sixth inning. It was Swanson’s 11th of the season and moved her into a tie with Samantha Cobb for the team lead. The RBI was her 56th of the season, tops on the team.

After cutting the deficit to one, Tulsa threatened to tie the game in the seventh inning when Shelby Blanton doubled to open the inning. After the double, Walker replaced Demore with Paige Hall, who then issued a walk before getting the next three batters in order to end the game with Tulsa having runners at second and third. Tulsa stranded six runners to three for the Beavers.

Aimee Creger took the loss for Tulsa, finishing the year 19-6 by allowing five hits and two runs (one earned) while striking out three and walking two. Tulsa finished the season 42-14 in another successful season for head coach John Bargfeldt, who is two wins shy of reaching 300 (298-156) during his seven years as head coach. This was Tulsa’s second straight NCAA appearance and fourth in the last five years and fifth overall.

Oregon State, ranked  No 24,  used a nine-run outburst in eliminating Lehigh (40-19) scoring twice in the first, three times in the second, once in the third and fifth and twice in the sixth inning. The nine runs scored by the Beavers increased their season total to 299 total runs, the highest in school history. The previous record was 296 in 64 games in 2007.  The Beavers got a solo homer from Ally Kutz in the second inning, which was Oregon State’s first postseason home run since Cambria Miranda hit one in the seventh inning against Louisville on May 19, 2007.  Elizabeth Santana led the Beavers with five RBI (2-for-2), giving her 41 for the season which is eighth in single-season history.  Santana didn’t have any RBI in the Tulsa game, going hitless in three trips to the plate.

Denmore pitched four innings to get her ninth win of the year, allowing two hits and two runs. Hall hurled 2.2 innings and Aryn Feikert one-third of an inning. Emily Bausher (2.2 innings) took the loss for Lehigh and finished the year 17-11. Rebecca Bliss replaced her in the second inning and pitched the remainder of the game, allowing six hits, four runs, walking one and striking out none.