March 23, 2013
The Sooners scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and took advantage of four Cardinals' errors to win via run rule for the 12th time this season. Oklahoma improves to 10-2 on the year against ranked teams and hasn't lost back-to-back regular season games since Feb. 24-25, 2012.
After losing game one, 5-1, OU head coach Patty Gasso admitted that the team didn't come out the way it needed to.
"That's a good team right there," she said of Louisville. "They fight hard. They make plays. They swing it. They're just a good, all-around fundamental team and they came ready to play, and the Sooners just came out flat."
Things changed in game two, thanks to a different approach.
"A different approach in the way of heart and fight," Gasso explained. "I think a great example is the last two bats of the game - Jessica Vest and Brianna Turang. When we fight like that, we are a tough team to beat.
"We came back with a vengeance, and we needed to, or else we were starting to waste the body of work we had put together up to this point. Today a split doesn't kill us. What I will walk away with is the response in game two and lessons learned from game one."
Leading 3-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth, the Sooners loaded the bases thanks to a walk from sophomore Shelby Pendley, a single from senior Jessica Shults and another walk for senior Keilani Ricketts. Junior Brittany Williams brought in a run with a single to left, while fellow junior Destinee Martinez singled back up the middle to score two more.
That brought Vest to the plate.
She already had an RBI double in the game after entering the contest with just four career hits. Now with runners on first and second, Vest fell behind 0-2 in the count before talking two balls. After fouling off two pitches, she worked it to a full count before fouling off another pitch. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, she singled to left center to fill the bases for Turang.
The senior outfielder had to work through her own marathon at-bat. After fouling off two pitches, Turang drew a ball. Another foul was followed by another ball. She then fouled off three more pitches before bringing the count full. Now on the 10th pitch of the at-bat, Turang dropped a double deep down the left field line to clear the bases and end the game.
Michelle Gascoigne got the win for OU, improving her record to 12-1. Her only run allowed was a solo home run in the top of the fifth, one of three hits she surrendered. Gascoigne struck out three and walked none.
"Today I was using my defense a lot, and they were making really great plays," Gascoigne said. "I was just trying to keep us in the game and keep rolling it to my defense or popping it up if I wasn't getting my strikeouts and get us back in there ready to score."
The scoring started for the Sooners in the second inning.
Shults reached on an error and was pinch run for by sophomore Erica Sampson, who took second on a wild pitch. Ricketts then stepped in and delivered a double to left center. OU is now 27-0 on the year when scoring first.
Oklahoma scored two more runs in the fourth, taking advantage of three Cardinals errors in the frame.
Ricketts led off and reached on an error by the second baseman. Ricketts tried to steal second one batter later and would've been out had the ball not come loose on the tag. Looking to move Ricketts to third, Martinez put down a sacrifice bunt but Louisville pitcher Rachel Le Coq airmailed the throw to first base to score Ricketts from second.
With Martinez on second, Vest doubled off the wall in right field to put the Sooners on top 3-0.
The third and final game of the series is scheduled for a 12 p.m. start on Sunday. The Sooners have not lost a regular season series since being swept in a two-game series at Missouri on April 16-17, 2011.