OU rides Keilani Ricketts no-hitter
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Keilani Ricketts threw a no-hitter and had 12 strikeouts in Oklahoma's 7-1 victory over Michigan on Thursday night in the Women's College World Series.
Ricketts, the Collegiate Softball Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, improved to 32-1.
Oklahoma (53-4) will face Texas on Friday night. Texas beat Arizona State 6-3. Michigan (50-12) will play Arizona State on Saturday in an elimination game.
Michigan took a 1-0 lead in the third when Sierra Lawrence reached on an error and eventually scored on a play at the plate.
"Once Michigan scored that kind of woke us up a little," Ricketts said. "We knew they would be scoring runs. They had been scoring runs all year long against everyone. We knew we had to respond."
Top-ranked Oklahoma, the NCAA runner-up last season, scored four runs in the third, and Lauren Chamberlain hit her 28th home run of the season in the fourth.
"I thought we came ready to play," Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso said. "It was a long day of waiting. That's one of the hardest things is just watching things on TV. I think we started off a little slow, but the sign of a good team is one that answers a score."
Oklahoma (53-4) gave Ricketts the cushion she needed with the big third inning.
The no-hitter was the seventh of Ricketts' career -- sixth this season -- and the 16th in WCWS history.
"I think you have to give credit where credit is due," Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. "Oklahoma is Oklahoma and they're as good as advertised. Keilani no-hit us. That's the first time we've been no-hit all year."
Washington 4, Nebraska 3
Washington coach Heather Tarr watched Bryana Walker hit two of the first three batters she faced and sail another pitch to the backstop in the first inning against Nebraska.
She took time for a mid-inning speech Thursday, telling the Huskies they were down but not out in their opener. She was right: Sophomore Kimberlee Souza slammed a walk-off home run in the eighth inning to complete a 4-3 comeback victory.
"The good thing is we bounced back," Tarr said.
Down 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh, Washington (44-15) tied the game when Victoria Hayward lined a ball that slid under the glove of Nebraska's Brooke Thomason into right field for a triple. A Hooch Fagaly sacrifice squeeze scored Hayward to send the game to the eighth and set up Souza's heroics.
The home run was Souza's eighth of the season and moved Washington to a winner's bracket game Saturday against Tennessee. Nebraska will play Florida on Friday.
Making its first trip to the WCWS since 2002, Nebraska (45-15) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Gabby Banda scored on a sacrifice fly from Brooke Thomason after being hit by a pitch.
Walker also hit Taylor Edwards in the first and Banda went to third on a wild pitch.
Washington answered in the bottom of the inning when Kaitlin Inglesby lined a 2-1 changeup over the wall. Inglesby's team-leading 12th home run of the season also brought Hayward home.
Walker settled down to retire the next six Nebraska hitters before running into trouble in the fourth inning and leaving in place of Inglesby.
Tatum Edwards scored in the fifth for Nebraska to tie the game after getting on through a fielder's choice. Washington came back in the seventh when Hayward's one-out hit reached the wall and Souza came to the plate in the eighth.
Tennessee 9, Florida 2
Melissa Brown had a two-run double in Tennessee's three-run first inning, and Ellen Renfroe limited Florida to four hits and struck out nine to help the Lady Vols beat the Gators.
Tennessee (50-10) advanced to face Washington on Friday.
"I think it feels great to get that first win under our belt," Renfroe said. "We're just excited to move on and focus on the next game and enjoy this while we can but we have business to take care of later."
Second-seeded Florida (57-8) will play Nebraska on Saturday in an elimination game.
In the first inning, Kat Dotson and Lauren Gibson drew walks off Hannah Rogers, and Madison Shipman singled to left to load the bases. Rogers walked Cheyanne Tarango to force in a run, then threw two more balls to Melissa Brown before Florida coach Tim Walton ended her day after 13 pitches. Brown drove a 3-2 pitch from Lauren Haeger to center to make it 3-0.
Florida cut it to 3-2 in the fifth on Kelsey Stewart's NCAA-leading 10th triple and Stephanie Tofft's RBI single.
Dodson and Gibson doubled in Tennessee' four-run sixth, and the Vols added two more runs in the seventh.
"We didn't play very well, with uncharacteristic mistakes," said Walton, whose team had two errors. "Offensively, we had a chance and came back in the fifth and we battled. I really give our kids credit for the fight. We just didn't have enough."
After watching Florida edge out his team for the SEC championship on the last day of the season, Tennessee coach Ralph Weekly cautioned his players.
"I called them together and told them they weren't going to back into a championship," Weekly said. "They had to explode and explode right then or they would take it from us."
Texas 6, Arizona State 3
Kim Bruins hit a two-run home run in a four-run fifth inning to help Texas beat Arizona State.
"What an exciting matchup," Texas coach Connie Clark said. "I will tell you one thing we talked about before the game started with this group was the first team to relax would have a great opportunity to win it all."
Texas (50-8) advanced to a Friday night game against Oklahoma. Arizona State (50-11) will play Michigan in an elimination game Saturday.
Arizona State took a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning. Elizabeth Caporuscio pulled a two-strike pitch past first baseman Karina Scott for the Sun Devils' first hit of the game, Bailey Wigness followed with a single and Alix Johnson doubled into the gap in left center.
Texas rallied in the bottom of the inning, with Bruins hitting her home run that fell out of Caporuscio's glove and over the wall in left.
"It was so intense," said Bruins, who also earned the save in relief. "I was just trying to leave it all out on the field for my team."
Texas added two more runs in the sixth.
Arizona State starter Dallas Escobedo was in control until the fifth inning.
She finished the night with five earned runs on six hits with the winds blowing out of Hall of Fame Stadium at more than 25 mph at times.
"Those hits that I did give up I thought were just popups," Escobedo said. "I still stuck with what I was throwing. Sometimes it blows over the fence."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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