Power versus power when OU and California play Friday night in WCWS

Power versus power when OU and California play Friday night in WCWS

OKLAHOMA CITY – Power pitching  and power offenses. Oklahoma versus California.  Two teams very similar, can score runs a lot of different ways, with outstanding pitching.

Winners in their WCWS openers Thursday, the Sooners and Golden Bears will clash Friday evening at 6:00 local time at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in front of what is expected to be a standing room only crowd. Sixteen games have been played between these two outstanding teams and the Golden Bears hold the advantage, 11-5. Four times these two teams have faced each other in the WCWS with OU winning in 2000, 2-1, then losing the last three times, 4-2, 5-2 and 2-1.

OU is enjoying one of its finest seasons in recent years, compiling a 51-8 record and having won nine games in a row and 10 of its last 11 games. The Sooners are the nation’s leader in homers (95) and have a left-handed pitcher, Keilani Ricketts, who has been nothing but spectacular in postseason play and throughout the season. Ricketts allowed one run (unearned) in the OU opening game win over USF, striking out 11 batters and walking one. She limited the Bulls to three hits.  She now has 404 strikeouts for the year.

In NCAA tourney play, she’s now 14-5 with the World Series win Thursday; her first after two consecutive losses in the 2011 WCWS. She has allowed 75 hits in 122.7 innings, fanning 174 batters.  She has allowed only 17 earned runs (24 total runs). Ricketts also contributed with an RBI triple, scoring outstanding freshman Laura Chamberlain, whose two-run homer in the fourth inning was the catalyst for the win. Chamberlain now has 28 homers and has 73 RBIs.

Right-hander Jolene Henderson, who defeated LSU in the California opener to improve her pitching record to 37-2, called “Oklahoma a great team. We’ve seem then play against Arizona and we watched them play today (Thursday) while we were in the room. And every team here is going to be a really strong team to come against. They can all score. They all have great pitching staff, and Oklahoma is one of those teams. And it’s going to be a great game coming against them.”

California equally has a strong hitting team with power in the starting lineup. Three players have smashed ten or more homers with double threat Valerie Arioto the leader with 23, followed by Danielle Henderson (15) and Breana  Kostreba  (13). Jamia Reid, Arioto and Echavarria are California’s top three hitters, each batting .380 or higher.

While OU and California will meet in the opener Friday, Alabama, a 5-3 winner over Tennessee Thursday evening, will face Arizona State at 8:30 p.m. The Sun Devils knocked off Oregon 3-1 on Thursday night.

Alabama sophomore Jackie Traina hurled the win and it was her 38th of the season, tying the school record of 38 by Shelley Laird in 2000. She fanned eight, and walked three.  Kayla Braud led the Crimson Tide on offense with a 3-for-4 performance, with two runs scored and a stolen base. Cassie Reilly-Boccia had three of Alabama’s five RBIs on a first-inning double to left field. Alabama is now 56-7 and 9-14 in the WCWS. Tennessee’s record dropped to 52-13 and will play 1:30 p.m. Saturday against Oregon, who could not muster a comeback against Arizona State.