Oklahoma takes opener at Women's CWS
June, 4, 2012
By ESPN.com wire services
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Keilani Ricketts struck out 12 in a five-hitter and Oklahoma beat Alabama 4-1 on Monday night in Game 1 of the Women's College World Series final.
Jessica Shults drove in two runs, tying the game at 1 with a sacrifice fly in the fifth. The Sooners (54-8) went ahead to stay later in the inning on Brianna Turang's run-scoring grounder.
Shults tacked on an RBI single in the sixth before Katie Norris' squeeze brought in Ricketts.
Game 2 of the best-of-three series is Tuesday night.
The fourth-seeded Sooners had 11 hits, the second-most allowed by Jackie Traina (40-3) this season, to win their 12th straight game and snap the Crimson Tide's 11-game win streak.
Traina scored Alabama's only run on Kendall Dawson's sacrifice fly.
Ricketts, a 6-foot-2 powerhouse of a left-hander, now has 52 strikeouts in 28 innings at the World Series.
Shults was a shell of herself at last year's World Series after she was diagnosed with panulcerative colitis late in the season. She had hit 19 home runs but lost more than 20 pounds and was feeling especially fatigued. The Sooners ended up dropping their first two games in Oklahoma City and were eliminated.
Shults came back healthy this season and provided the go-ahead two-run double in Oklahoma's 5-3 victory against defending champion Arizona State on Sunday to get back to the championship round for the first time since winning the school's only NCAA title in 2000.
Alabama (58-8) is trying to become the first Southeastern Conference school to win the championship in a sport dominated by Pac-12 teams, which have won 23 of the 30 NCAA softball crowns.
The Sooners were all over Traina from the start but stranded eight runners through the first four innings, getting nothing out of back-to-back singles and a sacrifice to start the second or a bases-loaded situation with two outs in the fourth. Traina struck out Javen Henson and Georgia Casey to get out of the second and retired Destinee Martinez -- who had singled in five straight at-bats -- to end the fourth.
It wasn't until after Alabama broke through against Ricketts that Oklahoma got on the board.
Traina then led off the bottom of the fourth with a sharp single to left, starting a Bama rally. Ricketts hit Cassie Reilly-Boccia on her back foot with a pitch then bounced in a wild pitch to allow both runners to move up. She struck out Amanda Locke before Dawson's sacrifice fly, with Traina scoring standing up when right fielder Erica Sampson's throw drifted up the third-base line.
Traina issued a leadoff walk to Lauren Chamberlain and Ricketts -- who's also the cleanup hitter -- followed with a single, moving up to second as Chamberlain beat the throw to third. Shults then lofted a fly ball to center to open the floodgates as the Sooners finally turned all those hits into runs.