OU softball: Freshmen fuel Sooners' 3-0 shutout of No. 1 California
Ricardo Patino, The Oklahoma Daily
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
With the Sooner defense safely in the hands of its All-American ace, Oklahoma relied on a pair of freshmen to power its offense Friday at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Lauren Chamberlain and Georgia Casey led OU's offense to three scores while junior pitcher Keilani Ricketts did her part, throwing 16 strikeouts in a two-hit shutout of No. 1 California.
Chamberlain's timely double in the top of the third opened up scoring for the Sooners, plating Casey who walked to lead off the inning. The hit was the second time in the past two games that Chamberlain scored the game-winning run for the Sooners.
"I was proud of our approach during this game," coach Patty Gasso said. "Offensively, our team did a great job of finding ways to get on. They really knew the importance of this game."
Chamberlain struck out on her first time facing Cal's Jolene Henderson, whose off-speed pitches were causing fits at the beginning of the game, but she made the necessary adjustment to finish the game with two of the Sooners' five total hits.
"My first at-bat wasn't too pretty with her change-up," Chamberlain said. "And I didn't want to get cheated on that same pitch again."
Casey also had to make the necessary batting adjustments in order to find her swing against Henderson's montage of pitching speeds. The Australian native has settled into her role as the Sooners' patient lead-off batter who doesn't chase after bad pitches with a combined three walks in the past two games.
Casey admitted that Henderson's off-speed pitch played a factor in OU's first two scoreless innings during Friday's game, but she also said the Sooners have ways of turning the offensive momentum in their favor.
"When pitchers have a good change-up, its just about which team can adjust to it the best," Casey said. "But we have game plans on how to make that adjustment, and we adjusted well."
And that adjustment paid dividends during Casey's final at-bat of the game in the sixth inning when, faced with a full count, she hit her first postseason home run. The solo shot was Casey's 10th homer of the season, clearing the center-field fence to seal the OU victory.
Although Gasso said she has seen these type of mid-game adjustments from her team all season, the skipper doesn't take her freshmen's postseason success for granted.
"They're schooled beyond their age," Gasso said. "You wouldn't believe they were freshmen by the way that they are students of the game. They want to get better and it's very exciting for the future of our program."