- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Oklahoma appears to be on a mission. One year after going winless during the Women’s College World Series, the Sooners knocked off South Florida, 5-1, to win their first game of the 2012 WCWS on Thursday afternoon in Oklahoma City.
It was a typical game for OU as a strong pitching effort from Keilani Ricketts and a home run from Lauren Chamberlain sparked the Sooners to the victory.
Turning point: After South Florida took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning, OU responded immediately thanks to Chamberlain. After Destinee Martinez got the Sooners first hit of the game, Chamberlain’s two-run home run put the Sooners ahead. OU never looked back.
Player of the game: Chamberlain. She went 2 for 3 with a two-run home run and double. She played a role in three of the Sooners five runs (two RBI, one run scored). The freshman is hitting .358 with 28 home runs and 73 RBIs this season.
Unsung hero of the game: Keilani Ricketts. The junior allowed one unearned run on two hits while striking out 11 batters. She added an RBI triple in the bottom of the sixth to spark a three-run inning which gave the Sooners a four-run cushion heading into USF’s final at-bat.
Stat of the game: 156 total pitches thrown by USF pitchers. The Sooners did a terrific job of being patient at the plate as only 57.1 percent of the Bulls pitches were strikes and USF had 63 more total pitches than the Sooners despite having three more at bats. After going hitless in the first three innings, OU’s patience paid off in the sixth inning as OU extended its lead to four runs with a three-run sixth inning.
What it means: OU is two wins away from a berth in the WCWS championship series. The Sooners will face the winner of California-LSU on Friday at 6 p.m.
“You could tell that we were nervous with our at bats. As we started to settle in, we started to see our pitches better.” -- Ricketts
“The more you see her, the more you can get a little bit comfortable.” -- Gasso on facing USF pitcher Sara Nevins.
“It calms me down when [the offense is] producing runs for me. I just have to trust them because I know they’re going to.” --Ricketts.
4dJake Trotter and Brandon Chatmon