No. 3/4 Oklahoma hosts No. 8/10 Texas in a three-game series that could determine the 2012 Big 12 Champion.
NORMAN, Okla. --No. 4 Oklahoma (40-7, 14-4 Big 12) looks to guarantee at least a share of the Big 12 title this weekend as it hosts No. 8/10 Texas (40-8, 14-6) in a series that could determine the 2012 Big 12 Champion. The Sooners and the Longhorns sit in first and second, respectively, in the Big 12 standings entering the three-game series that begins on Friday at 7 p.m. Saturday's game is scheduled for 2 p.m. before the two teams wrap up the series Sunday at 12 p.m.
Friday and Saturday's games will be televised statewide on by the Sooner Sports Network on Cox Channel 3 and 703 HD with Chad McKee and Kenny Mossman calling the action. Sunday's game will be on ESPN with Pam Ward and Michelle Smith on the call.
With six games remaining, OU enters the series first in the Big 12, 14-4, while Texas sits in second with a record of 14-6. Missouri is currently third in the league at 14-7. Following the Oklahoma series, Texas has just one Big 12 game remaining, vs. Baylor, while Missouri hosts Oklahoma State for a three-game series.
Oklahoma's pitching staff continues to sport the nation's top ERA, 0.99, while the team is the Big 12's second best hitting team with a cumulative batting average of .315. Texas leads the Big 12 and is sixth nationally with a batting average of .338 while ranking fourth in the Big 12 with an ERA of 2.27.
OU leads the Big 12 and is fourth nationally with 71 home runs and has six players with at least five home runs led by Big 12 leader Lauren Chamberlain who broke the OU single season record for home runs with two last week to up her total to 22 this season. The freshman also leads the Big 12 in runs batted in (58), total bases (124) and slugging percentage (.886). Keilani Ricketts leads the Sooners with a batting average of .385 and leads the Big 12 with an on base percentage of .535.
In the circle, the Sooners are led by the one-two punch of Ricketts (25-6) and Michelle Gascoigne (14-1). The two rank second (0.97) and fourth (1.12), respectively, among Big 12 pitchers for ERA in all games while ranking second (1.16) and first (1.12), respectively, in conference only games. Ricketts ranks second nationally in ERA, hits allowed per seven innings (3.68) and strikeouts per seven innings (10.9) while ranking third in strikeouts (305).
The Longhorns are led at the plate by Lexy Bennett with an average of .400. All nine of UT's starters are hitting at least .306 as the team leads the Big 12 in hits, triples, RBIs and total bases. Taylor Hoagland leads the team with 15 of its 54 home runs this season.
In the circle, Blaire Luna (17-3) and Rachel Fox (12-0) pace the Longhorns with respective ERAs of 2.22 and 2.04. Luna is fourth in the Big 12 with 192 strikeouts this season.
The two teams enter this weekend all tied up with 21 wins a piece.
Oklahoma leads the series, 9-6, when played in Norman.
The teams split last year's series in Austin as OU won the first game, 5-2, before UT captured the second, 5-3.
GET OUTTA OF HERE
The Big 12 leader in home runs with 71, the Sooners have hit multiple home runs on 19 occasions this season and at least three in 10 different games.
Oklahoma is undefeated in its 19 games with multiple home runs and have hit 28 in its 18 Big 12 games.
Six players have hit at least five home runs with freshman Lauren Chamberlain leading the way with a Big 12 leading 22. With two home runs against Oklahoma State, the first-year Sooner broke the OU single season record for home runs and is two away from the Big 12 season record.
The Oklahoma team single season record for home runs in a season is 85 set by the 2000 team.
The Big 12 leader in home runs with 22, Lauren Chamberlain broke the OU single-season record in last week's win over Oklahoma State.
Chamberlain is now just two away from the Big 12 single season home run record of 24 held by three different players from league teams.
BIG 12 SERIES
Entering the weekend, Oklahoma is 6-0 in Big 12 series while Texas is 5-1 in its six comleted Big 12 series. The two teams have completed series with five common opponents. Texas' lone series loss came to Missouri, two games to one, a team that OU has defeated two games to one.
||Common Series Opponent
| W, 2-1
|| T, 1-1 (1 left)
| W, 3-0
|| W, 3-0
| W, 2-1
|| Texas Tech
|| W, 2-1
| W, 2-1
|| Texas A&M
|| W, 2-1
| W, 2-1
|| L, 2-1
| W, 3-0
|| Oklahoma State
|| W, 2-1
| May 11-13
|| Iowa State
|| W, 3-0
GASSO HITS 1,000 WINS
Oklahoma Head Coach Patty Gasso hit a major coaching milestone as she hit the 1,000-win mark as her No. 7 Sooners defeated Virginia, 9-1, at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif. Gasso now stands at 857-276-2 at Oklahoma and 1,017-337-3.
Counting just NCAA Division I wins, Gasso entered the 2012 season 29th all time and has already moved up two spots to 27th.
BIG 12 CHASE
OU leads the Big 12 title chase heading into the weekend with a conference record of 14-4 and six games remaining in Big 12 play. OU closes out Big 12 action May 11-13 at Iowa State.
Texas enters the series with a Big 12 record of 14-6. Following the current series, the Longhorns have just one Big 12 game remaining on Sunday, May 13, vs. Baylor.
Missouri is third in the Big 12 with a Big 12 record of 14-7 and have just three conference games remaining, a home series with Oklahoma State on May 11-13.
Texas A&M sits in third with a Big 12 record of 13-8 and closes out its Big 12 season with a home series this weekend against Kansas.
In terms of the race for the Big 12 Championship, a sweep of Texas would give OU at least a share of the Big 12 title with Missouri. Four teams (Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas and Iowa State) have been eliminated from Big 12 title contention.
Oklahoma has registered at least seven hits 36 games this season and have hit double digits in the category on 10 different occasions including twice at the Judi Garman Classic with a season-high 19 hits against DePaul before collecting 18 against Virginia.
OU is 34-2 in the games it records at least seven hits with the only losses coming to Georgia when the Sooners out hit the Bulldogs, 7-4, but fell 3-2, and on April 6 when OU fell to Texas Tech, 5-4, despite collecting seven hits. Oklahoma is 4-5 in the seven games below seven hits.
OU has six starters hitting at least .327 and eight players with at least 28 hits.
The Big 12's top team in slugging percentage with a .538 clip, Oklahoma owns three of the top four spots on the Big 12's individual slugging percentage list.
Lauren Chamberlain leads all Big 12 batters with a percentage of .886 while Keilani Ricketts is second with .786. Jessica Shults sits in fourth, slugging .712.
Nationally, the Sooners rank eighth in slugging while Chamberlain is ninth and Ricketts is 23rd. Oklahoma joins UTEP as the only school to have two players in the top 25 nationally in slugging percentage.
RICKETTS SETS CAREER STRIKEOUTS RECORD
Keilani Ricketts needed just one appearance in the 2012 to capture the Oklahoma career strikeouts record. The junior pitcher entered the season with 798 strikeouts in her first two seasons and Norman and struck out 16 in her season debut versus UNLV to surpass the previous record of 805 set by Jill Most from 1994-97. Ricketts ended the opening weekend at the Sportco Kick-Off Classic with 36 strikeouts and 834 on her career.
With 305 strikeouts on the season, the fifth most in a season by an OU player, Ricketts now has 1,101 career strikeouts and is fourth in Big 12 history in the category (page 7). The junior is 51 strikeouts from moving up to third on the Big 12 career list. Cat Osterman of Texas (2002-03, 2005-06) holds the Big 12 career record in the category with 2,265 career strikeouts.
After racking up four one hitters this season, Keilani Ricketts was due for a one hitter. Against Kansas on March 30, she did that and then some with her first career perfect game in OU's 8-0 five-inning win.
Ricketts became eighth pitcher in Oklahoma history to accomplish the feat and joined classmate Michelle Gascoigne, who hit perfection last season against Appalachian State.
FIFTY FOUR STRAIGHT
When Kansas scored two runs on April 1, it marked the first time since OU's 4-2 win over Iowa on March 4 that Keilani Ricketts had given up a run, a streak that lasted 54 straight innings.
In her last 10 starts, Ricketts has allowed just 44 hits and has struck out 90 batters.
RACKING UP THE Ks
Keilani Ricketts didn't stop racking up the Ks after reaching the OU career plateau. After striking out 13 Central Arkansas batters on April 28, the junior now has 17 double-digit strikeout games on the season.
Ricketts has racked up 54 career games with at least 10 strikeouts and has eight games with at least 15 strikeouts including one game this season, 16 at UNLV, and the school record, 19 last season versus Iona.
ONE AWAY FROM PERFECTION
|| W, 5-0
|| Kent State
|| W, 6-0
|| Georgia Tech
|| L, 1-0
|| L, 5-0
|| L, 3-2
|| North Texas
|| W, 4-1
|| W, 7-0
|| W, 5-0
|| W, 4-2
|| W, 2-0
|| Oklahoma State
|| W, 8-0
|| Texas Tech
|| W, 3-1
|| W, 6-1
|| W, 2-1 (10)
|| W, 2-1
|| W, 8-0 (6)
Keilani Ricketts was just one out away from her first career perfect game against North Texas. Two straight walks were called for North Texas batters with two outs before Maddelyn Fraley's single broke up Rickett's no hitter in the bottom of the seventh.
The game was the first of six one hitters that Ricketts now has on the season.
Ricketts did it again in OU's first game versus LSU, retiring the first 19 batters before giving up her only hit with one out in the seventh. Ricketts recorded her third one-hit game of the season in OU's 14-0 five-inning win over Indiana on March 9 as the Hoosiers got one hit in the second.
OU's win over Oklahoma State on March 28 gave Ricketts her fourth one hitter as the Cowgirls recorded their lone hit in the second inning. Ricketts returned to her one-hit ways last weekend against Texas Tech as she gave up just one hit in the game.
Ricketts added her fifth one hitter of the year on last week in OU's 11-1 win over Oklahoma State. The junior was one hit away from a second last Saturday as she allowed just one hit and no walks in OU's six inning 8-0 win over Central Arkansas.
AT THE PLATE TOO...
Keilani Ricketts has helped her own pitching efforts at the plate and those of her fellow pitchers when she's in the line up as a designated player. The junior leads the team with a batting average of .385 and is third with 12 home runs. Ricketts leads the Big 12 with an on-base percentage of of .535 behind 45 hits, 36 walks and three hit by pitches.
SAME OLD SHULTS
Jessica Shults missed the last six games of 2011 after undergoing treatment for pan-ulcerative colitis. The junior slugger showed to be back to form in Las Vegas as she led the Sooners with 11 hits. Shults batted .611 for the event with a double, a home run and six RBIs.
After a strong start to the season, Shults is third on the team in batting with a .377 batting average and leads the team with 55 hits.
The junior is second on the team with 13 home runs and 104 total bases this season and now has 47 home runs for her career. That number is third all-time in Oklahoma history and fourth in the Big 12.
Shults needs just one more slam to move to second in OU history and third in Big 12 history. Amber Flories (2007-10) holds both the Oklahoma and Big 12 career marks in the category with 56 career home runs.
THREE NAMED TO TOP 25 LIST FOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Lauren Chamberlain, Keilani Ricketts and Jessica Shults were all named finalists for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) announced. OU joined Cal as the only programs to place three athletes on the list.
Chamberlain is the lone freshman named to the final 25 as Ricketts and Shults were two of seven juniors on the list. Thirteen seniors and four sophomores comprise the remainder of the top 25 list for the award.
For Ricketts, THE announcement marks the third time she has made the list of 25 finalists in her career while Shults has advanced to the top 25 for the first time in her career after earning top 50 honors each of the last three years.
Pundits knew going into the season that OU had an ace in the circle with Keilani Ricketts. The question was if Ricketts would be the lone star in the circle.
With Ricketts and classmate Michelle "Gas Can" Gascoigne. who is 14-1 on the year, the Sooners have a one-two punch combination that rivals that of Manny Pacquiao. Gascoigne has given up just 15 earned runs and 56 hits on the year in 94.0 innings of action of fire power.
Gascoigne leads all Big 12 pitchers in Big 12 games only with an ERA of 1.12, just ahead of Ricketts at No. 2 at 1.16.
Senior Kirsten Allen has proven a solid third option, throwing a one hitter against Austin Peay and striking out 18 in 15.1 innings of action for the season.
HUNTING FOR GOOSE EGGS
Twenty times this season, Oklahoma has not allowed an opponent to score a run including five Big 12 opponents. Nine of the 20 have come in run-rule victories. The other 11, however, have come in a full seven-inning contest.
Keilani Ricketts has pitched 11 of the 20 shutouts this season while Michelle Gascoigne has four and Kirsten Allen has one. Allen and Gascoigne have combined for four more shutouts.
Ricketts has 34 career shutouts, a number that ranks fifth in Oklahoma history and seventh in Big 12 history. The junior is just eight shutouts from capturing the Oklahoma record for the stat.
After going 2-0 last week, OU rose two spots to No. 3 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll while rising one spot to No. 4 in the USA Today/NFCA poll.
In the NCAA's RPI, the Sooners held steady at No. 5.