NORMAN — Oklahoma pitcher Keilani Ricketts was not at her best on Sunday. The defending USA Softball Player of the Year didn’t give up a run in her two and two-thirds innings of work, but she was far from the dominant pitcher who tossed a no-hitter last week.
Ricketts gave up just two hits, but she walked three batters and clearly lacked the control she normally displays.
After Arkansas put two runners on in the third inning, coach Patty Gasso pulled Ricketts in favor of Gascoigne, who worked out a bases-loaded jam for the second straight day.
The move came before Arkansas put any runs on the board, a change from Saturday when Gasso waited until the Razorbacks had put several on the board before moving to Gascoigne.
Coach Patty Gasso blamed the struggles on a timing issue, saying Ricketts couldn’t find her rhythm and her release point. She also downplayed the significance of Ricketts’ struggles, saying she’ll be ready to go for next weekend’s super regional.
“It was just a timing issue, and she probably could have worked it out in the bullpen if we needed her to,” Gasso said. “But we thought it was better for our team if we just brought Michelle in, and she just thrives on that stuff. But the pitching staff is fine.”
Patience pays off for OU: Patience at the plate keyed the Sooners to their big third inning on Sunday.
Up 1-0 in a tight ballgame, the rally started with Brittany Williams, who drew a walk on four straight pitches. That brought to the plate senior Jessica Shults, who after falling behind in the count 1-2, fought back to force a full count before drawing a second consecutive walk.
Callie Parsons then came to the plate with two outs and flied a ball deep to right field on what seemed to be a routine popup. But the ball bounced out of the right fielder’s glove, putting OU on top 3-0.