Sooners advance to WCWS finals

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Sooners are headed to the Women's College World Series Championship Series, as they knocked off the No. 3 Arizona State Sun Devils 5-3 Sunday afternoon to complete a three-game sweep of their bracket.

They advance to face Alabama for all the marbles.

"Just love the tenacity of this team and to find a way to play for a national championship has been our ultimate dream, our ultimate goal, and to know that it is a chance for reality is unbelievable," said OU head coach Patty Gasso. "And the hard work and effort they put in, there's not another team that deserves it more than my Sooners, I guess I'd say."

No doubt, they put in a lot of work to fend off the defending National Champions on this day.

Falling behind 2-0 early, they had to rally back and did just that.

After ace Keilani Ricketts gave up a pair of runs in the top of the first, OU cut the lead in half on designated player Katie Norris' second inning homer.

OU took the lead the next inning when it plated four on Ricketts' game-tying RBI single, a two-run double off the bat of catcher Jessica Shults and a misplayed pop-up that resulted in another.

"Yes, timeliness and a little luck [took place]," Gasso said. "The sun was a little factor today."

After that, the Sooners had quickly turned a 2-0 deficit into a three-run advantage.

"I think the main thing was to bounce back after that two run lead that Arizona State got in the first inning," Shults said. "And our whole thing this year was to fight back, even if we get behind. We don't get too much pressure, we don't focus too much, just stay calm and know things are going to happen for us. And they started to come together that inning, and it was contagious."

On the other side, the opposite was contagious.

After first baseman Annie Lockwood's two-run single in the first, ASU just couldn't seem to get the big hit it need, stranding nine in the contest.

One of the Sun Devils' best chances came in the fifth when they then trailed 5-3 and had runners on the corners, but one of Ricketts' 13 strikeouts ended the threat.

"You've got to have a little luck in this game," said ASU head coach Clint Myers. I mean, it was highly skilled on both sides. Again, it's a different ballgame if a couple of balls fall in, so it's just what it is. We make no excuses. It's just the way it happened."

Shults, who went 2-for-3 with two RBI, and center fielder Destinee Martinez, who finished 3-for-3, paced the Sooner offense to the title series.

ASU catcher Amber Freeman was 2-for-3 for the Sun Devils, and Lockwood had the two RBI.

Ricketts moved to 36-7, throwing seven complete and allowing three earned runs, while Sun Devils pitcher Dallas Escobedo fell to 24-8 to end the season.

While ASU heads home, the Sooners get started in a best-of-three against the Crimson Tide at 6 p.m. Monday.

And certainly they'll have a tremendous home field advantage as they attempt to when their second National Championship and first since 2000.

"It's a dream come true for these athletes because we, as the University of Oklahoma, are the only university that gets to feel this feeling," Gasso said. "There's not another school that's going to bring 10,000 people. Not that everyone here is a fan of the Sooners, but it feels like it when you're in the game.

"So the crowd, the noise, the adrenaline, the momentum that you get, is really indescribable. It's something that they'll remember forever."

So, too, they hope will this upcoming series.

Each team is a perfect 9-0 in the postseason.

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