published Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Oklahoma Sooners top UT 4-0 for NCAA softball title

The Oklahoma team waits at home plate for teammate Keilani Ricketts, 10, following her home run against Tennessee in the third inning of the second game of the best of three Women's College World Series NCAA softball championship series in Oklahoma City.
The Oklahoma team waits at home plate for teammate Keilani Ricketts, 10, following her home run against Tennessee in the third inning of the second game of the best of three Women's College World Series NCAA softball championship series in Oklahoma City.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  • photo
    The throw gets to Oklahoma shortstop Jessica Vest, left, before Tennessee's Kat Dotson, right, who is tagged out at second base in the second game of the best of three Women's College World Series NCAA softball championship series in Oklahoma City.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Keilani Ricketts homered and drove in four runs, Michelle Gascoigne pitched a three-hit shutout and top-seeded Oklahoma won the NCAA softball championship by beating Tennessee 4-0 in Game 2 of the Women's College World Series finals Tuesday night.

Ricketts, the national player of the year, drove a 2-1 pitch from Ivy Renfroe (22-5) halfway up the right-field bleachers for a three-run home run in the third inning and tacked on an RBI groundout in the seventh.

Ricketts got the night off in the circle after throwing a career-high 12 innings in Game 1 and moving to 35-1 on the season, but that just put the other half of her well-rounded game on display. She hit her 15th homer of the season and pushed her RBI total to 60.

No. 7 seed Tennessee (52-12) managed just three singles against Gascoigne (19-3), who struck out 12 and didn't walk anyone.

Lauren Gibson, Ellen Renfroe and Madison Shipman were named to the WCWS all-tournament Team from the Lady Vols.

Ricketts, who was the designated player, was the first one charging out of the dugout when Gascoigne struck out pinch-hitter Lexi Overstreet looking to wrap up the Sooners' second national championship. Oklahoma (57-4) also won the title in 2000 and was the runner-up to Alabama last season.

The Sooners carried the No. 1 ranking from the first week of the regular season and led the nation in both scoring and earned run average. It took a captivating 11th-inning rally for them to beat Tennessee in Game 1, with a dropped pop-up sparking a three-run outburst before Lauren Chamberlain's 30th home run of the season won it in the 12th.

Both teams went with their second-string starters after that marathon, in which Ricketts and Ellen Renfroe -- Ivy's younger sister -- both had shutouts through 10 innings.

It didn't take nearly as long for an offensive breakthrough in Game 2.

After Ricketts provided the lead, Gascoigne struck out the side in order in the bottom of the third to start a string of eight batters in a row retired. She retired 15 of the final 16 batters she faced out, with Melissa Davin's one-out single in the fifth as the only interruption.

Kat Dotson and Shipman had the only other hits for Tennessee.

Chamberlain, who gave Oklahoma two of the three finalists for national player of the year, tripled off the left-field wall to open the seventh before scoring on Ricketts' grounder to first.

Tennessee's Raven Chavanne, the other player of the year finalist and a .455 hitter entering the championship series, was hitless for a second straight game. She struck out in two of her three at-bats and finished the finals 0-for-9 with six strikeouts.

A year earlier, the Sooners also had taken a 3-0 lead in a game that would have won them the national championship. But in that Game 3, rain started falling and a series of Ricketts wild pitches allowed Alabama back in the game. The Crimson Tide completed their comeback after a rain delay, sending Oklahoma into this season determined for a shot at redemption.

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