By Corbin Hosler
CNHI News Service
OKLAHOMA CITY – When asked about the impending showdown with Texas on Thursday night following Oklahoma’s victory over Michigan, coach Patty Gasso shared a knowing glance with Lauren Chamberlain. After a few seconds, the sophomore replied simply.
“It’s going to be fun,” she said.
For the Sooners, it was.
Top-seeded Oklahoma scored 10 unanswered runs against the fourth-seeded Longhorns to run-rule Texas 10-2 in the second round of the Women’s College World Series.
“We enjoyed it very much,” Gasso said. “Not necessarily by the outcome or the amount of the score because we respect Texas very much. What was fun was to see every single one of these players participate in the win. Everyone had a part in it.”
Eight of the nine Oklahoma (54-4) starters recorded either a hit or RBI in the win, while Keilani Ricketts worked out of one inning of trouble to allow just three hits in the five-inning victory.
Texas struck first, but the Sooners took advantage of several Longhorn mistakes to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 6-2 lead, and the rout was on.
The Longhorns put two baserunners on with one out in the third inning, and the Sooners decided to intentionally walk Texas’ leadoff hitter Taylor Hoagland, the first time OU has pulled the maneuver this season. The next batter, Brejae Washington, made them pay, blooping a single into left field to put the Longhorns on the board.
After recording one out, a walk scored another run before Destinee Martinez made a running, over-the-shoulder catch on a deep line drive to centerfield to end the threat.
Like in Thursday’s 7-1 win over Michigan, in which the Wolverines scored first, the Sooners responded by taking control of the game in the very same inning.
On Saturday, it began with a Georgia Casey walk and a Shelby Pendley single. Ricketts followed that up with a double to plate OU’s first run, scoring Casey.
After the Longhorns recorded two outs, Callie Parsons – who wasn’t even playing full-time a few months ago – singled into right field to bring in two more runners, the second of whom, Brittany Williams running for Ricketts, was safe due only to a dropped ball at home plate.
Texas continued to shoot itself in the foot. On the next play, a Brianna Turang bunted the ball to pitcher Kim Bruins, who rushed the throw and sent it wide and into right field, where it bounced off the wall and allowed three more runs, including Turang, to score.
The play seemed to suck the air out of the Longhorns, and the Sooners pounced, scoring three more runs in the fourth and the game-ending run in the fifth courtesy of a pop fly that the Texas fielder lost in the sun.
“That’s been our thing all year, not to panic,” said senior catcher Jessica Shults, who added a walk and an RBI single on Saturday. “We’re pretty good at answering when something doesn’t go our way. We know our bats will come alive. It fuels us a little bit and wakes us up a little bit.”
With the win, OU is just one win shy of its second-straight national championship series, and the Sooners will have two chances to get it beginning at 8:30 p.m. today.
“Every game is the biggest game that you play, but this game is the biggest game there is because it puts you in the position to have someone have to beat you twice,” Gasso said. “With the way we’re playing I think that would be difficult for any team to do. It’s a tremendous advantage.”