Alabama rolls OU, forces third game at Women's College World Series
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
6/06/12 at 3:48 AM
Related Story: John Klein: Ricketts, Sooners get one more chance
OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma regained some offensive momentum in the final inning of Tuesday's 8-6 Women's College World Series loss to Alabama. It couldn't prevent the Crimson Tide from evening the best-of-3 championship series at 1-1, and setting up Wednesday's 7 p.m. winner-take-all finale.
But at least the Sooners proved they could still hit Alabama ace Jackie Traina. Destinee Martinez and Brianna Turang sandwiched deep triples around Jessica Shults' three-run homer, and an 8-1 score became 8-6.
Traina steadied herself long enough to strike out Javen Henson to end the game. She'll take a 41-3 record into Wednesday's showdown, never mind that OU has dented her for 10 runs on 20 hits in two games.
What the Sooners ultimately need is for their own workhorse pitcher to regain her momentum. That vanished into the Oklahoma City night Tuesday, and that's what doomed her 54-9 team.
Indomitable all postseason coming in, Ricketts spent more than an hour self-inflicting pain with five hit batters. Her scattershot pitching combined with sloppy defense and one big swing from Traina to end her night one out into the top of the fourth inning.
It had to be stunning for the Sooners to see Ricketts give way to Michelle Gascoigne. If for some reason that didn't shock them, Amanda Locke's three-run double against Gascoigne did.
The 5-1 deficit Ricketts left was now 8-1, and everybody in ASA Hall of Fame Stadium started thinking about game three.
"I wanted to get her out and rested," OU coach Patty Gasso said of the pitching change, "and to get her mind right."
Gasso said the Tide troubled Ricketts by adjusting their stances.
"My pitches were running into them and getting away from me," Ricketts said of her control loss. "I'll adjust those pitches now."
The Sooners must hope that happens. They assume it will. They assume that the left-handed intimidator who, before Tuesday, had worked 59 shut-down postseason innings while striking out 52 in four WCWS wins, will return to form.
"We know Keilani's mindset," OU first baseman Lauren Chamberlain said.
"She's a competitor," Shults said. "She wants to win as badly as everybody. We're gonna have her back."
It will help to patch some defensive holes.
Two Shults passed balls helped the Tide to four-run second and fourth innings. Two errors by Henson at third base were more damaging.
The first, a bobble of Locke's easy bouncer, led off the second. The second, a drop of shortstop Jessica Vest's force-play flip, came with two outs in the inning.
OU could have been in the dugout ahead 1-0. Instead, Locke scored the tying run on the play. Ricketts hit Kaila Hunt for the second time in two innings. Then Traina smacked a double into the left-center field gap to clear the bases and make it 4-1.
Ricketts survived the third after hitting Kendall Dawson to lead off. But when she nicked Kayla Braud to open the fourth, it was clear she'd blown a tire. Gascoigne came on, and the Tide opened it up.
The Sooners went silent until the seventh, an inning they're counting on carrying over into game three.
"We're gonna be back tomorrow, make adjustments in every way and compete our rear ends off for a national championship," Gasso said. "That was the message we sent. We're coming in locked in and ready to fight."
Original Print Headline: Alabama rolls OU
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355
Alabama's Kaila Hunt (10) slides home safely as Oklahoma catcher Jessica Shults (left) takes the throw in the second inning of Tuesday's Game 2 of the championships series of the NCAA Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. SUE OGROCKI / Associated Press
Alabama's Amanda Locke (22) crosses first base as Oklahoma first baseman Lauren Chamberlain (right) reaches for the throw in the second inning of Tuesday's Game 2 of the championship series of the NCAA Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. SUE OGROCKI / Associated Press