Ricketts Perfect in Oklahoma Run Rule
March 30, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso had mentioned recently that her No. 7 Sooners were lacking some on the field excitement despite being a team that was capable of making noise. On Friday night, they were making plenty of noise as their pitcher, Keilani Ricketts, threw her first ever perfect game as OU run ruled Kansas, 8-0, in five innings.
The win moved Oklahoma to 28-4 and 4-1 in the Big 12 while Kansas fell to 23-8 and 2-5 in conference play.
Ricketts threw the program’s eighth perfect game and the first since classmate Michelle Gascoigne took down Appalachian State on Feb. 11 of 2011. The junior had come close earlier this season with four one-hitters including Wednesday night’s win over Oklahoma State in Oklahoma City. The San Jose, Calif., native recorded 10 strikeouts for her 12th game this season reaching double digits in strikeouts while extending her scoreless streak to 53 innings on the year.
With the 10 strikeouts Friday night, Ricketts, already the all-time OU leader in strikeouts, became just the third pitcher in Big 12 history to eclipse the 1,000 strikeout mark as she now sits at 1,002 career strikeouts.
“I was really fired up tonight. I could hear my defense behind me and they really got me excited,” said Ricketts. “I didn’t do myself though, my team helped me out. There was one ball that could have gone through the defense but Jessica (Vest) made a great play on it for the out.”
Ricketts was backed at the plate by a Sooner squad who reached double digits in hits with 11, the seventh time this season OU has had at least 11 hits, and smacked three home runs with two from freshman Lauren Chamberlain, including a grand slam, and Ricketts providing herself help with a solo shot of her own. With the three home runs, OU has now has seven games this season with at least three home runs and 13 with at least two. Alica Pille took the loss for KU to fall to 11-5.
Oklahoma’s defense coupled with Ricketts’ pitching gave the Sooners their 18th shutout of the year and their fourth in five Big 12 games. The defense did not have an error for the 16th time this season.
“One of the missing ingredients we have been talking about is the lack of passion and excitement,” said Gasso. “This is not a quiet team but they hadn’t shown that on the field. Keilani was on fire as usual and tonight was really a complete effort. Our defense was steady and it was overall a smothering performance.”
Already the Big 12 leader in home runs entering the game, Chamberlain didn’t wait long to get her 13th home run of the season as the freshman sent a moon shot over deep center in just the second Oklahoma at bat of the first inning. While Chamberlain’s ball was seemingly still in the air, Ricketts sent a solo home run over the right field fence for a quick 2-0 lead for the Sooners as Oklahoma batters hit back-to-back home runs for the third time this season.
Oklahoma added its third run in the bottom of the fourth with four consecutive singles from Erica Sampson, Brianna Turang, Katie Norris and Javen Henson. With the bases loaded, a Destinee Martinez grounder to short resulted in a throwing error to home from KU shortstop Mariah Montgomery that allowed Turang to score and give OU a 4-0 lead.
At the next at bat, Chamberlain sent a second moon shot, this time over the left field fence, for her second career grand slam as OU slammed the door on the Jayhawks with an 8-0 final score.
The Sooners and the Jayhawks return to action again on Saturday at 2 p.m. before closing out the three-game series on Sunday at 12 p.m. Fans are reminded that The City of Norman and OU are hosting the annual Medieval Fair this weekend beginning Friday at Reaves Park across the street from the OU Softball Complex. Estimated attendance of this event over the next three days is expected to go over 100,000. Please keep this in mind when attempting to get to the OU Softball Complex this weekend and allow plenty of time for potential traffic delays.
Only those attending Oklahoma Softball games will be allowed to park in the parking areas commonly used for home softball events.