Oklahoma and Texas Win WCWS Opening Games

Oklahoma Pitcher Keilani Ricketts

Oklahoma and Texas win WCWS opening games


The Sooner fans among the record session two crowd of 8,862 for Thursday’s final two games of the opening round of the 32nd annual Women’s College World Series knew it was only a question of time before the No. 1 ranked OU softball team got untracked, although it trailed 1-0 against Michigan entering the bottom of the third.

Then, what the Sooner fans had been waiting for happened. OU turned a 1-0 deficit into a 4-1 lead by scoring four times on four hits in the bottom of third before adding two more in the fourth on Lauren Chamberlain’s 28th homer of the season and an RBI single by sophomore Callie Parsons. The 7-1 victory was highlighted by Keilani Ricketts’ seventh no-hitter of her career and the 17th in WCWS history. She walked two and struck out 12 as the Sooners extended their winning streak to nine games and overall record to 53-4. The win evened OU’s overall record in the WCWS at 12-12.

With the win, OU will advance to the second round of WCWS competition to face Big 12 rival Texas. The Sooners and the Longhorns are set to meet Friday night at 8:30 p.m. CT. Washington and Tennessee will play in the opening game at 6 p.m. CT.

After two scoreless innings, Michigan took advantage of some uncharacteristic defense from the Sooners to take a 1-0 lead in the third. Sierra Lawrence led off by reaching safely on sophomore third baseman Shelby Pendley's throwing error. After a strikeout, Amy Knapp reached on a fielder's choice and Lawrence took third after escaping a run-down. Lyndsay Doyle then tapped a ball back to Ricketts, who flipped home, but catcher Jessica Shults was unable to field it cleanly and Lawrence slid home safely.

Oklahoma bounced right back, though, and answered Michigan's run with four of its own in the bottom of the frame. Senior Brianna Turang opened the inning by reaching on a throwing error by Knapp at third base. Sophomore Lauren Chamberlain followed that by lining a single to rightfield. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, and Turang came home when sophomore Georgia Casey pulled a single through the left side.

After a strikeout and stolen base by Casey, Ricketts was intentionally walked to fill the bases for junior Brittany Williams. The starting designated player came through with the clutch hit as she dropped a single to left field to give the Sooners the lead. The bases remained loaded as Shults stepped to the box and delivered a two-run single that just got over the glove of second baseman Ashley Lane and into centerfield.

Oklahoma carried the 4-1 lead into the fourth, where it added two more runs thanks to Chamberlain's bat.  Turang led off for the second inning in a row and reached on an infield single. Chamberlain then took a full-count pitch off her shoe tops and launched a two-run shot to center field. 

The home run was her 28th on the year and 58th of her career. She moves up to second on the OU career list and into a tie for second on the Big 12 career list. Her single season total is tied for 11th in NCAA Division I history and puts her two off her own record for the Big 12 and OU single-season mark. In addition, Chamberlain upped her season RBI total to 81, tying former Sooner Samantha Ricketts for the most in conference and team history. Ricketts accomplished the feat in 2007.

OU added another run in the fifth when sophomore Callie Parsons smashed a single off Lane's glove and into centerfield. The ricochet allowed sophomore Erica Sampson, running for Shults, to score from second base and make it 7-1.

In the opening game matching Arizona State (50-11) and Texas, the Longhorns got a clutch homer off the bat of senior Kim Bruins that eventually proved to be the winning blow in a 6-3 win, advancing the Longhorns to face the Sooners Friday evening.

Bruins finished one for four with the home run, second baseman  Stephanie Ceo was two for three with a RBI and shortstop  Taylor Thom and third baseman  Taylor Hoagland each contributed a double and a RBI. In the circle for the Longhorns, senior Blaire Luna (31-5) allowed four hits and three earned runs over six innings of work with 10 strikeouts to get the win, while Bruins struck out a pair and permitted one hit in the seventh inning to earn the save.

“I think overall I was happy with my performance,” said Luna. ”I think the offense and the defense did good as well. But my mentally tonight was just go right at them and kind of spread the zone and that kind of helped me. So that was kind of my mentally was to stay the course and get ahead in the count.”

ASU's offense was powered by a two-run double off the bat of centerfielder Alix Johnson (one for two) and a solo home run from third baseman Haley Steele. Pitcher Dallas Escobedo (30-5) took the defeat in the circle after being responsible for five earned runs on six hits with six walks and five whiffs over five and one-third innings.

In the ASU third, Johnson drew a free pass, advancing all the way to third as shortstop Cheyenne Coyle reached via a fielding error by Texas. With Sun Devils stationed at the corners, Luna responded to the threat by striking out catcher Amber Freeman swinging.

The Longhorns again managed to get a runner in scoring position during the bottom of the third. Centerfielder Brejae Washington walked and then swiped second on a delayed steal. Thom walked on six pitches to join her teammate on the base paths, but a pop up to short off the bat of Bruins left the duo stranded.

Consecutive base hits from leftfielder Elizabeth Caporuscio and Wigness got the Sun Devil offense going with one down in the top of the fifth. That set the stage for a two-run double into the leftfield gap from Johnson as Arizona State finally broke the scoreless deadlock by nabbing a 2-0 lead.

Texas' offense responded in the bottom half of the fifth. Ceo started the threat with an infield single, moving to second via a walk issued to Washington. Thom stepped to the plate and drove a shot to right for an RBI double. On the throw back in towards the plate by Wigness, the ball eluded catcher Freeman as Washington also scored to knot the contest at 2-2. Bruins followed immediately with a drive to left that sent Caporuscio back to the wall. The ball was in her glove for a split second before bouncing out, landing on the top of the wall and rolling over for a two-run home run as the Longhorns powered in front 4-2.

The Sun Devil comeback attempt began immediately in the top of the sixth as Steele led off the frame by blasting a shot just inside the foul pole down the left field line to cut the deficit to a single tally.

The Longhorns (50-8) got the run right back in the bottom of the sixth as a perfectly placed bunt by Ceo between the circle and third brought in leftfielder Torie Schmidt from third to make it 5-3. Third baseman Taylor Hoagland followed with a double just inside the leftfield line for a RBI, ending Escobedo's stint in the circle as Mackenzie Popescue entered in relief with the Sun Devils trailing 6-3. Popescue kept Texas from adding any more on the scoreboard as the Sun Devils moved to their final chance to extend the match-up.

Bruins came on for the seventh and worked around two singles in the inning to keep ASU off the board and preserve the 6-3 victory. In addition to her big day at the plate, Bruins earned her first save of the season. It was the ninth come from behind win for Texas this season and ended a 19 inning WCWS scoreless streak that dated back to 2006. Texas is now 6-8 all-time in its fifth WCWS. ASU is 18-17 in its 11th WCWS.