Casey's shot sends OU to 5-2 walk-off

NORMAN, Okla. — The fourth-ranked Sooners have been winning all year, and this is a perfect example of why.

Down 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning against No. 8 Texas in the Red River Rivalry series opener, there was no panic.

Just poise.

"We've been in these positions before and I think they just really trust each other," said OU head coach Patty Gasso. "And they don't panic. I guess poise is the word. They don't panic and as long as you have these kinds of hitters in a lineup, three outs are a lot of outs for you in an inning."

Never mind the fact that they were down to their final two frames against a pitcher with a 17-3 record and a 2.22 ERA. Never mind the fact that they had left runners on in scoring position twice early in the game when they could have taken the lead instead of falling behind by a pair late.

They were simply going to find a way to win.

That they did.

Pitcher Keilani Ricketts smashed a solo shot to center and helped her own cause by cutting the lead in half; minutes later, right fielder Erica Sampson hit only her fourth home run of the season to tie it at two.

That set the stage for second baseman Georgia Casey's extra inning heroics.

Down 0-2 in the count, Casey found one pretty over the middle of the plate and drilled a three-run jack over the left center wall for the 5-2 win in the bottom of the eighth.

And with that, OU (41-7, 15-4 Big 12) is one win away from a series victory and more importantly, one triumph away from essentially locking up the Big 12 title, barring a sweep next weekend at 2-17 Iowa State (14-34 overall).

It's one victory from officially knocking the Longhorns out of the race, something the team obviously knew a series victory would do heading into the weekend.

"I think we had this circled on our calendar," Gasso said. "And so I was just telling these guys every time I talk to them, they're like, ‘We're ready. We're ready. We're ready.' And you could feel the anticipation of this game and sometimes those emotions don't really fit in well when you're trying to hit a very good pitcher."

The Sooners, though, did scrape out eight hits against UT ace Blaire Luna, enough to provide Ricketts (26-6) yet another victory after she struck out 13 and allowed just one earned run over eight innings.

She also paced the Sooner offense, reaching base in all four plate appearances, including the homer, a single and two walks.

Casey finished 1-for-3 with the game-winner and three RBIs, while first baseman Lauren Chamberlain was the only other Sooner with a multi-hit evening, going 2-for-4 with a run scored.

The two get back at it in game two at 2 p.m. Saturday at Marita Hynes Field.

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