OKLAHOMA CITY The fifth-seeded Oklahoma softball team (38-18-1) advanced to the Big 12 Championship finals for the fifth time in the league’s 10-year history with a 4-0 shut out of seventh-seeded Missouri Friday night at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. The Sooners avenged a sweep by the Tigers in the opening weekend of regular season Big 12 play and improved their winning streak to 10 games, the longest of the season.
Oklahoma will face sixth-seeded Kansas in the Championship finals Saturday at 3 p.m. at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Network with Bill Land (play-by-play) and Tracy Warren (color) calling the game.
“We have really come together these last two weeks and have carried it into the postseason,” head coach Patty Gasso said. “Everyone is feeling it, the pitching staff, offensively we are getting clutch performances and our defense is playing great. We are excited, but we know we will have our hands full with Kansas tomorrow.”
Freshman D.J. Mathis pushed her overall record to 14-6 after throwing her 10th complete game of the season and fourth shut out of her career. Mathis surrendered only three hits, striking out one and walking four.
Offensively, the Sooners posted nine hits against Missouri starter Jenn Bruck, with Samantha Ricketts going 3-for-3 at the plate with one RBI. Ricketts is hitting an impressive .750 (6-for-8) in the Big 12 Championship with six RBI.
It was Ricketts, who leads the team with 49 RBI, who gave Oklahoma its first run of the game as her single up the middle in the first inning plated Norrelle Dickson, who led off the frame with an infield single.
In the second, Oklahoma added two more runs after two costly errors by Missouri. First baseman Mariee Mena reached first on an error by the MU third baseman to open the inning. After Mena advanced to second with a stolen base, Susan Ogden moved her around to third with a single up the middle of the field.
On the ensuing play, Stacia Aleman singled but an error by MU’s pitcher scored Mena and placed runners in scoring position. Traci Dickenson’s RBI single scored an additional Sooner run and OU held the 3-0 lead after two innings.
In the fifth, Kristin Vesely led off the inning with a single to center field. The senior is now three hits shy of breaking the OU career record. Ricketts followed with a long single to center field that nearly cleared the fence but bounced off the top and stayed in. With runners at the corners, Savannah Long’s sacrifice fly to right field to score Vesely and push OU’s lead to 4-0.
MU’s Bruck took the loss and fell to 24-21 after giving up four runs, three earned, on nine hits and striking out three Sooners.
Big 12 Championship Notes:
The last title game appearance the Sooners made was in 2003 ... The Sooners are making their fifth appearance in the title game and own a 2-2 mark, winning the crown in 1996 and 2001 .. The lowest seed to ever win the tournament crown was No. 3 Texas in 2005 ... The No. 5 seed has appeared in the Big 12 Finals on five occasions ... Oklahoma has been among the final four teams standing in each of the last seven straight years (longest streak in the Big 12).