ANN ARBOR, Mich. Ironically, it was the work of two freshmen that insured Oklahoma's history of regional success continued.
The rookies led the OU softball team (39-19-1) to its first victory in the 2006 NCAA Tournament with a 1-0 shut out of Kent State Friday afternoon. Freshman hurler D.J. Mathis posted her fifth shutout of the season after throwing a one-hitter against the Golden Flashes while fellow freshman Samantha Ricketts pounded the only RBI of the game.
Head Coach Patty Gasso was not in attendance at OU’s game vs. Kent State on Friday. Gasso was attending her son’s high school graduation in Norman, Okla. It marked the first time Gasso has missed a game in her career with the Sooners.
“Things were a little different today with Coach Gasso being absent for the first time ever in a regional,” assistant coach Melyssa Lombardi said. “I was proud of our team for taking it in stride and getting the win for Coach Gasso today. We expected a good game from Kent State and it definitely was one. Our freshmen were great for us tonight as they have been all season.”
With the win, Oklahoma, the No. 2 seed in the regional, will face the winner of top-seeded Michigan and fourth-seeded Youngstown State in the winner’s bracket game at 11 a.m. (CST) Saturday. The game will be shown live on ESPN2 with Tracy Warren (play-by-play) and Stacey Nuveman (color) calling the game. Additionally, the contest will also be carried on KOKC (1520 AM) with Tony Sellars on the one-man show.
Mathis was one out away from throwing a no-hitter as she gave up her only hit of the game in the top of the seventh with two outs. Ashley Ball’s single over shortstop Savannah Long’s head gave KSU its first hit of the game. OU’s freshman lefty improved to 15-7 on the season in her 12th complete game, surrendering only one hit while fanning six KSU batters.
Offensively, the Oklahoma offense only tallied four hits against Brittney Robinson who fell to 30-12 on the year after giving up one earned run.
Junior Norrelle Dickson extended her hitting streak to nine games, her longest of the season, after leading off the first inning with a single to right field. Two batters later Ricketts, OU’s RBI leader, pounded her 50th RBI of the year with a single to center field that scored Dickson and gave the Sooners their only run of the game.
Adding the only extra base hit in the contest was junior Stacia Aleman, who ripped a triple in the second, marking the first three-bagger in her career. The other to claim a hit in the contest was Susan Ogden’s bat, who singled to right field in the fifth.
If Oklahoma wins its game on Saturday, it will play in the Regional No. 9 Championships on Sunday at 12 p.m. (CST). However, if OU loses its game on Saturday, it will play a 4 p.m. contest on Saturday against the winner of the loser’s bracket game at 1:30 p.m. (CST).
NCAA Regional Postgame Notes: Traci Dickenson’s line out double play at third base in the third inning set a new single season record at OU for double plays in a season (23) ... Mathis was one out of away from throwing OU’s first ever no-hitter in postseason play ... Junior Norrelle Dickson pushed her hitting streak to nine straight games, her longest of the season.... Stacia Aleman’s triple marked the first of her career ... The Sooners have won five straight NCAA Regional games dating back to 2004.