Arizona Softball Team Seeking Revenge in Super Regional

Arizona College Softball

Arizona Softball Team Seeking Revenge in Super Regional

Winning a berth in the Women’s College World Series won’t be the only thing on the minds of the University of Arizona softball team this weekend in the Super Regional in Norman, Oklahoma. Revenge will be another factor when they face the Oklahoma Sooners Friday at 1 p.m. (Central Standard Time) at Marita Hynes Field at the OU Softball Complex. A second game will be played Saturday at 11 a.m. with the if needed game to follow if necessary at about 1:30 p.m. ESPNU will televise the first game and ESPN will show Saturday’s game(s).

Last year was the first time since 1987 that the Wildcats failed to advance to the College World Series during the career of head coach Mike Candrea. Behind the stellar pitching of Keilani Ricketts, the Sooners swept the Wildcats 6-0 and 5-2 in Tempe last year. OU also was without star catcher Jessica Shults, who was diagnosed with pan-ulcerative colitis, a rare colon disease. She eventually returned to the OU lineup but batted only twice in the College World Series as the Sooners went winless. But Ricketts and Shults are back and have led the Sooners to an impressive 48-8 record highlighted by the past weekend’s Regional title, going 3-0 and beating Oregon State 6-0 on Sunday in the championship game.

During the weekend, Ricketts allowed one earned run on five hits and fanned 27 batters as she increased her overall record to 31-7.  She knows what is ahead for the Sooners this weekend in Norman. “We know they’re going to want their revenge. They’re going to be a very tough challenge for us. We’re just got to stick to our game plan and just keep playing how we’re playing.”

The three wins on the weekend extended the Sooner win streak to six in a row and 10 wins in their last 12 games. The Sooners have hit 91 homers so far and had six in the regional with Shults hitting a pair in Sunday’s championship game with a grand slam in the first inning and a solo homer in the fifth inning.

While OU was winning, the Wildcats were sweeping the Tempe regional (3-0) to extend their regional won-loss record to 78-6. The Wildcats defeated Notre Dame 8-3 in the championship game and are 38-17 for the season, including 12-12 in conference play.

Candrea was pleased with his team’s performance this weekend. “This was the weekend we’ve been working to see all year. We really put it together, pitched well, and made timely hits. Obviously, there were a couple defensive blunders but the overall energy and focus I saw was something I wish we had earlier this season. Overall I am pleased with everything I saw this week. We have a big challenge coming up in the Norman Super Regional, but we’re looking forward to it. If you beat (Keilani) Ricketts you beat Oklahoma. This team is in a good place right now and it is going to take a lot of effort but I think we can get there.”

For the regional, Candrea made a lineup change and it paid off when he moved Karissa Buchanan to leadoff from the No. 9 spot. "With the new season and what we've been through, it's like, 'Hell, let's roll the dice right now,' " Candrea said. The Sabino High School graduate rewarded him. She finished the three-game regional round 5 for 10 with two RBIs, reaching base seven times. She went 2 for 4 in Sunday's 8-3 win against Notre Dame.

OU also has tweaked its lineup, moving Georgia Casey into the leadoff spot. “I knew (moving Casey to the leadoff spot) was going to put a little bit of responsibility on Jessica Shults,” said OU head coach Patty Gasso. “I wanted to see how she was going to handle that, and she just nailed it. Literally. This lineup, I really like it. As long as Shultz is swinging the way she is, we’re going to stick with it.”