Michelle Gascoigne doesn’t mind it when the bases are loaded.
A day after working out of several bases-loaded jams, Gascoigne faced her biggest test of the weekend on Sunday, coming on for Keilani Ricketts in the bottom of the seventh inning with two runners aboard. First, she walked them loaded, then she got Texas’ best hitter, Taylor Hoagland, to pop out in the infield. She followed that by striking out Brejae Washington to end the game and the series with a 5-3 Oklahoma victory.
“All day yesterday I was working out of jams, so it wasn’t anything new to me this weekend,” Gascoigne said after getting the out that put OU into the driver’s seat for the Big 12 championship. “I knew Keilani needed my help and I knew that they would be taking some big swings. I just wanted to get ahead in the count and get the outs.”
She did, ending a second straight day of seventh-inning drama between No. 1 OU and No. 6 Texas.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less out of these two teams,” coach Patty Gasso said. “Both teams big-time wanted this. I’m proud of Keilani for knowing she was out of gas and asking for Michelle to come and finish it. And Michelle was just really clutch for us all weekend.”
Gascoigne ended the game with a flourish, but it was Ricketts who got the Sooners there. Texas ace Blaire Luna and Ricketts mirrored each other in the way they began the game. Both opened up with two strikeouts before allowing a home run to the three-hole hitter.
But while both pitchers may have started off the same, they went in opposite directions from there. Ricketts came back and struck out Karina Scott to end the inning, while Luna allowed the Sooners to load the bases and bring in another run.
It was a sign of things to come. Ricketts dominated for most of the game until the final inning, while Luna gave up nine hits and left the game in the sixth inning with OU on top 5-1 after giving up the second home run of the day to Shelby Pendley.
It was OU’s depth that made the difference Sunday.
The Sooners’ ability to pitch Gascoigne on Saturday allowed Ricketts a day of rest, something Luna could have used after pitching three days in a row for the first time this season. The Texas senior wasn’t her best a day after giving up just four hits in Texas’ 4-2 victory.
Again it was the bottom of the OU order coming through, breaking the game open in the fifth inning with a leadoff walk to Jessica Shults and a single from Destinee Martinez setting the stage for Brianna Turang, who doubled into left field to bring in two runs and give OU some insurance it would later need.
“She’s been on fire all weekend,” Gasso said of Turang. “She’s such a spark at nine (in the batting order) for us. One of the things I’m most proud of this weekend is the way the bottom of the lineup came through for us.”
While Ricketts was dealing in the circle, Pendley made sure the Sooners would have the offense to back her up. The sophomore broke out of an 0 for 4 slump in the series’ first two games by going 2 for 2 on Sunday with two deep solo home runs in the first and sixth innings.
Pendley found success against Luna after watching film on Saturday night and moving back in the batter’s box.
“I wasn’t going to strike out again,” she said. “After I got that first one my confidence went way up and I was relieved.”
Both pitchers settled down after the frenetic first inning. Luna worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the second while Ricketts kept the Longhorns from threatening for the next several frames.
With the win, OU (39-3, 8-1) took two out of three from Texas (39-6, 9-2), thereby gaining control of the Big 12 race. The Sooners have more conference games left to play than the Longhorns, but would have to lose two games against unranked teams with a combined conference record of 12-21 and have Texas win out to lose the Big 12 title.
“We have to keep working still, but this was really big for us,” Pendley said.
The Sooners next take the field at 4 p.m. Tuesday at North Texas in their final non-conference game of the regular season. OU has three more conference series remaining: Iowa State at home, Kansas in Lawrence and Oklahoma State in Oklahoma City, Norman and Stillwater.
Michelle Gascoigne doesn’t mind it when the bases are loaded.
'Twice as Nice'
When it comes to the 3A State Tournament and Oklahoma City, the Verdigris High School basketball teams are a household name.
Head coaches Randy Upshaw and Mike Buntin lead their programs back to the 'Capitol City' this week for a chance to hoist the coveted 3A state championship on Saturday night at the Big House.
‘Soaring to State’
In the hometown of Carrie Underwood, Verdigris senior point guard Baileigh O’Dell proved to be Oklahoma’s ‘Basketball Idol’ in Class 3A Girls Basketball.
The 5-foot-8 floor general put the No. 4-ranked Lady Cardinals on her shoulders and carried Verdigris back to the the state tournament with the 53-40 win over No. 5 Tahlequah Sequoyah Friday night in the Area Championship at the Checotah Event Center.
3A AREA PLAYOFFS: Tahlequah Sequoyah wins nail-biter over No. 4 Verdigris
The Tahlequah Sequoyah Indians pulled the upset Friday night and punched their ticket to the Class 3A State Tournament.
Behind Caisen Green’s game-high 26 points and B.J. Leach’s 16 points, the Indians roared past No. 4 Verdigris, 64-55 in the Area Championship at the Checotah Event Center.
4A AREA PLAYOFFS: Stilwell eliminates Inola
The Inola Longhorns got behind early and never could recover as Stilwell rolled to a 73-47 win in the Class 4A Area Tournament Friday afternoon at Claremore High School Gymnasium.
4A AREA PLAYOFFS: Inola knocks out Locust Grove
The Inola Lady Longhorns moved one win closer to punching their ticket to the Class 4A State Tournament Friday afternoon.
With the 37-35 win over Locust Grove, the Lady Longhorns advanced to the Area Finals Saturday night against Vinita.
High School Basketball State Tournament Brackets
The Oklahoma High School Basketball State Tournaments will get under way this week in Oklahoma City and the Tulsa-Metro Area.
Below is a listing of the Class 3A-6A State Tournament Pairings.
Arkansas fires women's basketball coach Tom Collen
Arkansas fired women's basketball coach Tom Collen on Friday, bringing a close to a disappointing stretch for the program.
The Razorbacks (19-11) lost in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament to Mississippi on Wednesday, the eighth time in nine seasons they've failed to advance past the opening game.
SEC MBB: Alabama snaps Arkansas' 6-game win streak
Trevor Releford scored 24 points and Shannon Hale added 18 to lead Alabama to an 83-58 victory over Arkansas on Saturday, snapping the Razorbacks' six-game winning streak.
SEC MBB: Tennessee trounces Missouri, 72-45
Antonio Barton scored 16 points and Jarnell Stokes had a double-double Saturday as Tennessee trounced Missouri 72-45 to win its fourth straight game and boost its NCAA tournament hopes.
BIG 12 MBB: Crockett leads Texas Tech past Texas
Jaye Crockett scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Texas Tech to a 59-53 win over Texas in a regular-season finale on Saturday.
This was the Red Raiders' (14-17, 6-12 Big 12) first win over the Longhorns (22-9, 11-7) since 2008 in Lubbock.
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