Sooners close in on second consecutive WCWS

NORMAN, Okla. — The Sooners are one win away from the Women's College World Series after winning 6-0 over the Arizona Wildcats in Friday's Super Regional opener at Marita Hynes Field.

Pitcher Keilani Ricketts dealt seven shutout innings in her 14th complete game shutout in 2012 and the Sooners pounded out a pair of home runs as part of their eight hits to win their fifth straight over the eight-time national champions.

OU's hitting brigade started in the bottom of the first inning.

After Ricketts avoided her first trouble of the day in the top half, first baseman Lauren Chamberlain ripped a two-run double to right center to put OU up 2-0.

"The way coming out in the first inning, finding ways to get on base, Lauren opening it up with a hard shot through right center, set the tone," said OU head coach Patty Gasso. "And I just felt like this team offensively had a good approach. We just stayed on it."

Chamberlain managed a one-out walk in the second to get her third RBI and put OU up 3-0.

It only got worse from there.

Sooner third baseman Javen Henson singled home Ali Vandever in the third after catcher Jessica Shults doubled to lead off the inning.

Then came the big sticks.

Designated player Katie Norris and Ricketts homered in the fifth and sixth, respectively to score OU's final runs and put a strong stamp on this one.

"Well, I think she [Arizona pitcher Shelby Babcock] just kept going to her go-to pitches, which are really good pitches," Ricketts said. "We, for the most part, were just making our adjustments up there and that's how we were able to capitalize on that pitch."

And they really did all day.

"The way we started was very impressive," Gasso said. "And looking through the line score, we scored every inning except maybe the fourth, it looks like. So, consistently throughout the game we're putting runs up on the board against a team that can come back in one swing."

While Chamberlain had the big first inning double, OU center fielder Destinee Martinez actually finished as the only Sooner with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 with a run scored.

For Arizona, just third baseman Brigette Del Ponte recorded more than one hit, as she finished 2-for-3 with a walk.

But that doesn't mean the Wildcats didn't have their opportunities.

They stranded 10 on the day, including multiple base runners in the second, third and seventh.

Arizona left the bases loaded in the final inning, stranded 10 in the game and the only inning in which it did not leave one on was the fifth.

Some of that was poor execution, but a huge part of it was also Ricketts' ability to make quality pitches when she needed to.

"Once she gave up a hit, she would come right back and not let another person get a hit," Del Ponte. "So, it was hard for us to chain those together to score runs."

No doubt, they banged out nearly as many hits, seven, as the Sooners did but just couldn't come up with the timely ones.

"They got runners on every inning and it was tough getting out of situations, but the defense came in clutch with a lot of great plays," Ricketts said.

Because of that, the Sooners must just win one of two potential games tomorrow to advance to Oklahoma City.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats must do it the hard way and win two straight elimination games.

"As long as we've got innings, we've got a chance," said Arizona head coach Mike Candrea. "You know, and I think that's how we have to approach it."

A bid for the WCWS will be on the line for OU tomorrow, and Arizona will be trying to continue its season when the two meet at 11 a.m. An if-necessary game is slated for 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first match-up should the series come to that.

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