Oklahoma City -- Oklahoma could be emerging as the favorite to win the Women’s College World Series. And Keilani Ricketts is the main reason.
The Sooners ace pitcher dominance continued on Friday night as she led OU to a 3-0 win over top-seeded California at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. Ricketts has been incredible during OU’s run through the NCAA Tournament, having allowed one earned run in six tournament games.
Turning point: When OU gave Ricketts the ball on the mound. She kept the Golden Bears off balance throughout the night and never faltered, even when Cal got runners in scoring positions. It was one of the best pitching performances of her career.
Player of the game: Ricketts. She struck out 16 batters and allowed just two hits in the victory. The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, Ricketts added a bases-loaded walk to give the Sooners a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning. She has struck out 27 batters and allowed five hits in 14 innings pitched in two WCWS games.
Unsung hero of the game: Georgia Casey. The freshman make her mark in her second WCWS game with a solo home run and two runs scored. She went 1 for 2 and walked twice from her leadoff position in OU’s lineup.
Stat of the game: .714. That was the Sooners' batting average leading off innings. OU was 5 for 7 hitting lead off against Cal, which created several scoring opportunities for the Sooners and they capitalized in the third and fourth innings, scoring one run in each inning.
Missed opportunities: OU left 10 runners on base in the victory but it didn’t matter thanks to Ricketts’ dominance and clutch pitching.
What it means: The Sooners are one win away from a berth in the WCWS championship series. OU will have Saturday off before playing at noon on Sunday needing one win to advance to the championship series.
Quotable: “I thought Keiliani was the best I had ever seen her.” -- OU head coach Patty Gasso
“They’re such a huge part of our team. They’re students of the game, students of hitting. They’re wonderful students who want to get better.” -- Gasso on freshmen Lauren Chamberlain and Georgia Casey
“I had my adrenaline going and I was hitting my spots.” -- Ricketts
“When pitchers have a good change ups, it’s about which team can adjust better.” -- Casey