Shults sparks Sooners' rally past Tulsa

NORMAN, Okla. — The Sooners are headed to the regional final, as they captured the winner's bracket game 7-1 over Tulsa Saturday afternoon.

But it didn't come easy.

"I would start with a heavy exhale first because it was a tight game as you are all aware of throughout," said OU head coach Patty Gasso. "But this team did not panic. We might have been pressing a little bit, but we weren't panicking."

The Golden Hurricane put the pressure on by carrying a 1-0 lead into the sixth inning before OU, when it looked like it might not, finally opened up its offensive explosion.

Catcher Jessica Shults broke up the shutout on an RBI double to right center.

"I think we just kind of saw her [Tulsa pitcher Lacey Middlebrooks] through," Shults said.

Then came left fielder Erica Sampson's two-run single that gave the Sooners their first lead of the game at 3-1.

"I would say as far as timely manner, yes [that was the biggest hit of my OU career]," Sampson said.

It got worse, however.

After right fielder Brianna Turang singled to reach for the third time in the game, designated player Katie Norris ripped a two-RBI single to plate her and Sampson, running the count to 5-1.

Second baseman Georgia Casey capped off what became a six-run sixth inning with her RBI double.

"I mean, we had good at bats the whole game and they were kind of taking that momentum Keilani brought from the mound from that inning," Shults said. "And we just kind of wanted to pick her up and help her out on the mound, and it kind of just all fell together that inning."

OU, playing as the visiting team on its home field, added another in the top of the seventh when Shults grounded home first baseman Lauren Chamberlain.

Pitcher Keilani Ricketts, who struck out seven consecutive batters during one stretch in the contest, finished her complete game with just one earned run, 10 K's and four base runners on three hits and a walk.

"Just after they scored their run, I knew I just couldn't let my frustrations get the best of me because when that happens, the other team will take that as momentum for themselves," Ricketts said. "And I knew that we just had to keep composed."

Shults, who recorded two RBIs, and Turang each finished 2-for-3 and Sampson and Norris each also had a pair of RBIs.

OU takes on the winner of tonight's nightcap between the Oregon State/Lehigh winner and Tulsa at 1 p.m. Sunday.

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