Ann Arbor, Mich. — Savannah Long drove in four runs with a home run and a triple and Kristin Vesely collected three hits to become the Sooners career leader, as Oklahoma run-ruled Kent State, 8-1, to advance to the championsip game of the NCAA Softball Regional in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Earlier Saturday, OU dropped a 1-0 decision in nine innings to the host Michigan. The Sooners will now have to beat Michigan twice on Sunday to capture their seventh straight NCAA Regional title.
Oklahoma ripped 16 hits against Kent State after collecting just seven in their first two games of the regional.
"That was something that was really nice to see today, because we had some struggles at the plate earlier," said assistant coach Melyssa Lombardi. "But they just kept fighting and fighting and finally they got what they wanted. We're looking forward to coming back Sunday and playing Michigan and carrying that over."
In the first game, the Sooners got only three hits in nine innings of Michigan ace Jenny Ritter, who struck out 15 batters. Two of those infield hits by Norelle Dickson, one of them a pop-up that was lost in the sun for a double. Vesely got the only hit that left the infield with a single to right in the ninth inning. She was also the only OU batter that didn't strike out in the game. The Sooners new hit leader says her team needs to be more aggressive the next time around against Ritter.
"We need to jump on her pitches when she leaves them over the plate. She makes a couple of mistakes on each batter and we didn't capitalize on them today," said Vesely. "We need to lay off of some pitches but don't let her get ahead of us."
Sooners head coach Patty Gasso rates Ritter in the same class as Texas ace Cat Osterman and knows her team needs to change their hitting strategy to have success in the championship game.
"One thing we know about her is that she loves the postseason," said Patty Gasso. "I don't think we've seen anyone as poised and dominant. A lot of it has to do with us understanding the strike zone that's being given and making adjustments to it. That's going to be real important."
"We've got to keep plugging. We've got to find ways to get runners on, get them in position to score. If that's a walk, if that's some kind of an error, however it happens doesn't matter but we definitely have to put the ball in play more than we did today."
The OU-Michigan game will begin at 12 p.m. Oklahoma time and can be heard on KOKC 1520 AM. If the Sooners win the game there will be second championship game immediately following. If Michigan wins the first game, they will be the regional champions.
OU advances to regional final vs. Michigan
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