Sooners clinch berth in championship series

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Sooners are right back where they were last year: fighting for a national championship and needing two victories to get it.

Only this time they'll play a different SEC team in Tennessee instead of Alabama.

"I'm incredibly proud of this team," said OU head coach Patty Gasso. "Words can't express how excited we are to be here. Although our actions may not look like it, this is a very focused and determined team that had one goal and that is to get back and have a chance to win a national championship. It is difficult to do. It's been difficult this entire year.

"But the pride I have in this team is about their perseverance and the fact that they are not shaken by anything. They've gone through some things, ups and downs and here we are."

As for how they got there, well, they disposed of Pac-12 opponent Washington 6-2 Sunday evening at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.

Pitcher Keilani Ricketts got touched up for a pair of runs but struck out 12 and picked up her 34th win of the season, and she even helped her own cause in doing so with a mammoth solo jack to center.

That capped a three-run third inning that also featured a solo shot from slugger Lauren Chamberlain and triple and run scored from left fielder Brianna Turang.

"That was a fun one," Chamberlain said. "I just liked how the crowd reacted. I'm just trying to soak up all the sounds I can right now. It felt good."

OU added another in the fourth courtesy of a bases-loaded walk by second baseman Georgia Casey, at which point OU led 4-0.

It would certainly need it considering the pressure Washington put on in the fifth.

Huskies center fielder Kylee Lahners slammed a homer to center, then an error allowed another to score and cut the lead in half after that.

With a pair of runners still aboard, tough, Ricketts fanned back-to-back batters to escape the jam.

"It was big because they were getting momentum and trying to find a way to get on base," Ricketts said of the sequence. "So just to get momentum back on our side was big."

The Sooners used that momentum to plate another the following half inning, as Casey blooped in an RBI single to make it 5-2 OU and it would coast from there.

They added some insurance in the seventh on center fielder Destinee Martinez's RBI groundout.

It now sets up a battle between two WCWS unbeatens and an intriguing one at that.

"Quite honestly, we haven't watched them very closely because we've been concentrating on our next opponents," Gasso said. "But we'll have plenty of time to get all of our scouting reports together and the team will look at video and have a game plan prepared and ready to go."

The finals begin at 7:05 p.m. CT Monday, with game two slated for the same time Tuesday and an if-necessary game Wednesday.

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