OU softball: Sooners 'icy' in win over professional all-stars
On a mild November night against the National Professional Fastpitch top players, the Oklahoma softball team had nothing but ice in its veins.
After falling behind one run due to a couple of pitching miscues, the Sooners exploded for a four-run fourth inning performance that eventually turned into a 5-3 victory over the National Professional Fastpitch All-Stars Thursday night in Norman.
But in order for the team to complete the sweep of its fall schedule and become the first collegiate program to go 2-0 versus the All-Stars on the same night, the Sooners needed their returning starters to neutralize a one-run deficit.
“We had some come-from-behind wins last season and even though we have a lot of returning veterans this year, we’re still a different team,” senior pitcher Keilani Ricketts said. “So, tonight it was good to see how we could respond together against a high-caliber team like that.”
After going three complete scoreless innings, NPF fourth-hole hitter Kaylyn Castillo drew a walk and then advanced on a wild pitch from Ricketts.
The pitch allowed Castillo to move to second before the former Arizona State standout eventually scored on an infield single, giving the All-Stars an early one-run lead in the fourth inning.
Then Ricketts returned in the bottom half of the inning and helped her cause with an RBI single to get the Sooner scoring barrage started.
Ricketts plated senior catcher Jessica Shults, who singled and then advanced on a passed ball, to knot up the score 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth before sophomore second baseman Georgia Casey brought the crowd at Marita Hynes Field to its feet with a two-run shot over the centerfield fence during the next at bat.
“(NPF starting pitcher Hilary Bach) was throwing really hard but I was just trying to make sure I was on time with her,” Casey said.
Casey led the Sooners as the plate for the night, finishing 2-of-3 with an RBI and a run scored.
The Sooners added one more run in the fourth courtesy of an RBI-single by junior Destinee Martinez before Shults tacked on an insurance run in the sixth. The All-Stars tried to gain momentum by scoring a run in the top of seventh, but a successful Sooner pick-off play to get the runner stranded in between second and third base helped end the possible rally.
And for coach Patty Gasso to watch her team succeed in standing toe-to-toe with softball’s elite for seven innings is something that she said only can help her team get better for next season, regardless of the final score.
“They make us better, and I appreciate them coming out here and do this with us because it makes us see the level we need to be at,” Gasso said. “I use this game to allow my young players to see how this game should be played. It’s beneficial in so many ways and not just by the outcome.”