Ricketts wipes 16, Sooners storm on

OKLAHOMA CITY — Sooner pitcher Keilani Ricketts straight dealt her team into the Women's College World Series bracket finals, fanning 16 California batters, as the Sooners knocked off the No. 1 ranked Golden Bears 3-0 Friday night at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.

"I thought Keilani was the best I've ever seen her in quite a while," said OU head coach Patty Gasso. "She threw the same kind of game against Arizona in the Super Regional and really had complete command."

Ricketts, who improved to 35-7 on the year, flirted with WCWS history heading into the final inning, as she sat just three strikeouts shy of Cat Osterman's record 18 in a seven inning game.

She struck out the side three times in seven innings, doing it in three of the first four frames, and she really had the Cal hitters off balance all day.

"I just had my adrenaline going in this game and I was hitting my spots and that helped," said Ricketts, who claimed she feels like she's been locked in the entire postseason.

Only twice did the Golden Bears really threat.

In the second, they put runners on first and second with nobody out, but Ricketts worked her way out with a couple of K's and a lineout to third.

In the sixth, Cal put runners on second and third with one out, but Ricketts worked her way out of that jam with back-to-back strikeouts, bringing her total to 15 at the time.

"I think we were just seeing what my--pitches that were working, and we were just going off that," Ricketts said. "And it helped that I was just hitting my spots because, you know, Cal, being the great team they are, they could capitalize on any mistakes I was going to make."

They just didn't on this evening.

Ricketts struck out all but one batter in the California lineup--catcher Victoria Jones managed to avoid it in three trips--and she fanned seven hitters at least twice, including National Player of the Year Finalist and first baseman Valerie Arioto.

"I think she showed why she's the Player of the Year," Arioto said. "She did a good job of keeping us off balance. Obviously, we need to do a better job, put the ball in play."

Meanwhile, the OU offense provided plenty, despite stranding 10 baserunners in the contest.

First baseman Lauren Chamberlain hit an RBI double into right center to give OU an early 1-0 lead in the third.

The Sooners added another in the fourth when Chamberlain ripped a two-out single after getting down in the count and Ricketts managed a bases-loaded walk one batter later.

Second baseman Georgia Casey hit her first home run of the season in the top of the sixth to extend OU's lead to its final margin of 3-0.

Chamberlain finished 2-for-4 to lead the Sooner offense, while the Golden Bears mustered just a pair of hits from Jones and second baseman Jace Williams.

"She throws the ball hard," Williams said. "And I mean, she paints the corners. Her changeup was on. It was dropping off the table. And she really just--I mean, she came out and really threw a great ballgame.

"She had, let's see here, 16 strikeouts and two walks. Pretty big game right there."

Star pitcher Jolene Henderson (37-3), the victim of three Cal fielding errors, was tagged with just her third loss of the season for Cal.

"Oklahoma is a very good hitting team," Henderson said. "They're really patient and really just watched a lot of pitches today because I know I threw a lot of pitches. But they were a good hitting team. And my defense, we were off a little bit today. But we'll come back strong and I'm not worried."

OU now needs just one more victory to face the other side's bracket winner in a best-of-three national championship series.

The Sooners won't play again until 12 p.m. Sunday

On the other hand, Cal will shift brackets and play the Tennessee-Oregon winner at 8:30 p.m. Saturday and must now win three games and beat the Sooners twice without losing if it hopes to have the same opportunity.

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