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Tucson Super Regional: Oklahoma shuts out Arizona in Game 1

Arizona threatens again in the seventh, but to avail. The first two batters reach base, but Oklahoma’s Keilani Ricketts shuts down the middle of order to finish off the 6-0 victory in the first game of the best-of-three Super Regional at Hillenbrand Stadium.

Ricketts allowed seven hits but struck out 13 — seven looking. The Wildcats left the bases loaded in the third and the sixth innings.

Arizona will have to win two games Saturday, beginning at 2 p.m., to win the Super Regional and advance to the College World Series.

(Check back later for postgame coverage later.)

* * *

Keilani Ricketts hits a laser over the right-centerfield fence and off the building some 30 feet or so (my best guess) beyond the wall. Sooners lead 6-0.

* * *

Arizona teases the Hillenbrand faithful in the bottom of the sixth inning, loading the bases with one out on two singles and an error by the third baseman.

The Cats had the bottom of the order up, though, and Alex Lavine bounced into a force play to pitcher Keilani Ricketts, and Baillie Kirker struck out looking on a change-up on the outside corner.

* * *

Going to the bottom of the sixth, OU still up 5-0. Keilani Ricketts has struck out 10 Wildcats.

* * *

Shelby Babcock loads the bases on a hit batter and two walks, but she gets out of the inning when she fields a sharp bouncer right back at her and she starts a 1-2-3 double play.

OU leads 5-0 going to the bottom of the fifth.

* * *

Shelby Babcock into pitch for the Wildcats in the top of the fifth. OU leads 5-0. This is the freshman’s first postseason appearance.

* * *

Oklahoma has taken a commanding lead in the top of the fourth.

Kenzie Fowler walked the leadoff batter, and then Chana’e Jones poked a hit behind the third-base bag. Another walk loaded the bases before a sacrifice fly made it 2-0 for the Sooners.

With two outs, Desiree Martinez hit a soft liner to right field, and Karissa Buchanan mistakenly started back on the ball. She then slipped as she tried to cut to move forward, and the ball fell in front of her for a hit, driving in two runs. Brianna Turang’s triple made it 5-0.

To make matters worse, Fowler was called for an illegal pitch in the inning, stirring bad memories from last season’s College World Series.

Now, it’s going to be extremely difficult for the Wildcats to rally off Keilani Ricketts.

* * *

A near-miss for the Cats in the bottom of the third.

After Keiliani Ricketts struck out the first two batters — giving her six in a row — Brittany Lastrapes and Lindsey Schutzler reached on infield singles. Brigette Del Ponte walked to load the bases for Stacie Chambers, the Arizona all-time home run record.

Ricketts won the battle, getting Chambers to hit a comebacker … and Ricketts easily threw out Chambers at first.

* * *

Oklahoma puts together a two-out rally in the top of the third inning to take a 1-0 lead.

The Sooners got the first hit of the game — a surprising double over the head of center fielder Lauren Schutzler off the bat of Cierra Hughes, the No. 9 hitter in the order. Hughes ran up on the pitch to slap-hit, and with a half swing, she punched the ball to the wall.

Destinee Martinez followed with a grounder into the hole, which would have been a tough play for shortstop Alex Lavine to throw her out at first. Lavine ended up bobbling the ball for an error.

Then, Brianna Turang slapped a pitch into left field for an RBI single.

A hit batter loaded the bases for dangerous Keilani Ricketts, but Fowler got a huge out on a 3-2 pitch as Ricketts lofted an easy fly to right field.

* * *

OU’s Keilani Ricketts mastering the UA lineup so far, with five strikeouts through two innings. She strikes out the side in the second, doing a superb job of changing speeds and working all parts of the zone.

* * *

Arizona State has defeated Texas A&M to advance to the College World Series. ASU will play the winner of the Tucson Super Regional in the first round of the Series. We do want to see an Arizona-ASU rematch this season, don’t we?

* * *

I have an eye on ESPNU’s coverage of the game via ESPN3.com … and Oklahoma ace Keilani Ricketts his 71 mph on a few pitches in the first inning, according to the TV radar gun. Ricketts walks Brigette Del Ponte with two outs, but strikes out Stacie Chambers on a 71 mph drop ball on the outside corner.

* * *

Arizona’s Kenzie Fowler needs 10 pitches to put away Haley Nix, but strikes her out looking to end the top of the first. Folwer retires the Oklahoma side in order — which is something she managed to do last weekend in the regional in only two of 19 innings.

* * *

There was a huge crowd outside the stadium as I arrived at Hillenbrand about 45 minutes before first pitch, as Arizona and Oklahoma will battle in the first game of a best-of-three Super Regional on Friday night.

The one lineup unknown for Arizona was at shortstop. In a competition between walk-on freshmen, coach Mike Candrea is sticking with Alex Lavine or Ashlee Brawley. Lavine will be hitting eighth.

Alabama has already punched its ticket to College World Series in Oklahoma City. The Crimson Tide rallied Friday to defeat Stanford twice after dropping the opening game Thursday night.

Keep checking back during the game for updates and analysis.

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