OU softball: USF coach says Sooners have their own 'Murderers' Row'
Ricardo Patino, The Oklahoma Daily
Playing under the bright lights of the 2012 Women’s College World Series isn’t an easy task for members of the eight-team field regardless of classification or previous series experience.
But one advantage that is becoming obvious for this Oklahoma team that’s cruising through the winner’s bracket is that five of its team members have national-team experience in junior pitcher Keilani Ricketts, junior catcher Jessica Shults, sophomore outfielder Destinee Martinez, freshman first baseman Lauren Chamberlain and Australian national team member freshman second baseman Georgia Casey.
And that factor helps the fourth-seeded Sooners who have only one senior starter in the lineup.
“When it comes to leaders, they all just want to win,” OU coach Patty Gasso said about her team. “Jessica Shults is our captain, but they’re all such a big part of it — every one of them.”
In the first two games, the Casey-Martinez-Chamberlain-Ricketts-Shults lineup has 9-of-10 total Sooner hits in this year’s WCWS. Only junior outfielder Brianna Turang — the seven-hole in the lineup — has a hit from the bottom half of the OU lineup.
All five players are hitting above .300, including Ricketts, who comes in hitting .400 right now; and that murderers’ row of batters is something opposing pitchers are having a hard time getting past unscathed in this year’s WCWS.
“Go from Martinez to Chamberlain to Ricketts to Shults: It’s almost like you’re going through the top two to four batters on the New York Yankees,” USF coach Ken Eriksen said. “When they’ve had their run of five straight, who do you pitch around?”
California coach Diane Ninemire and Cal starting pitcher Jolene Henderson also didn’t have an answer for the Sooners’ batting entourage that posted three RBI hits, including Casey’s 10th homer of the season, in the sixth inning of a 3-0 win against the Golden Bears.
“Oklahoma is a good hitting team,” Henderson said. “They’re really patient and really just watched a lot of pitches today because I know I threw a lot of pitches.”
USF and Cal both opted to go after OU’s top half of the batting order throughout 14 combined innings in the first two games, but the Sooners took advantage of getting quality at-bats. The top five also have walked seven total times in the first two games, improving the already solid .415 on-base percentage the Sooners had going into the WCWS.
Combine that type of hitting and on-base success with National Player of the Year ace Ricketts, who has a .16 ERA in postseason games this year, and OU has a lethal combination to give the team an edge going up against any opponent in this year’s WCWS field.
After two wins, the Sooners now await the winner of the LSU-Arizona State to find out who they will play in the semifinal game at noon Sunday.