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May 24, 2013

Keilani Ricketts propels OU to 10-2 Super Regional win

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Keilani Ricketts' walk-off three-run home run ended the opener to the Norman Super Regional and allowed Oklahoma to win the first game of the series against Texas A&M 10-2 in six innings.

That knowledge didn't sit well with Texas A&M softball coach Jo Evans.

"It's a really disappointing, embarrassing way to lose a game," Texas A&M coach Jo Evans said.

Three of the Sooners' 11 runs Friday night were walked in by two Texas A&M pitchers in the sixth inning. Lauren Ainsley managed to give up two runs with just 11 pitches.

But the real stink of the loss for the Aggies is knowing they might have played a seventh inning if not for a mental error by Texas A&M shortstop Tyler Taran on a routine ground ball.

"We've been talking about that all year long, about not leaving outs out there on the field," Evans said. "It's so clearly an out at first base, and that would have been huge. It's two outs. Chamberlain comes up. Pick your poison, but we won't pick her."

Now the Aggies will have to find a way to win back-to-back games against an Oklahoma team that hasn't lost since May 5, hasn't lost at home since March 23 and hasn't loss back-to-back games all year.

They'll receive their first opportunity at 11 a.m. Saturday, and, if they earn a win, a chance to upset the nation's No. 1 team at 2 p.m. It'll be a tough task for a team associate head coach Melyssa Lombardi said was on its A-game tonight.

"I felt all three aspects played extremely well -- offense, defense, pitching," associate head coach Melyssa Lombardi said. "Just excited to watch them play and really get after it today."

The Sooners (51-4) looked to be cruising through the first two innings of the game. The bats came alive early. Ricketts drove in the game's first run with a base hit to right field.

Ricketts (30-1) finished the game hitting 2-for-3 with four runs batted in at the plate. She also struck out 13 gave up just three hits and walked just one.

She opened the game by striking out the first five batters she faced.

"I think we were just trying to set the tone early because we know that A&M's been great hitters all year long," Ricketts said. "I was just trying to get ahead early in the count because they're patient early in the game."

Texas A&M (42-17) gave Ricketts a game for the first five innings, showing they hadn't travel from College Station, Texas to go out quietly. The Aggies took Ricketts deep in the third and fourth innings make the score, 3-2.

Aggie ace Mel Dumezich (27-9) also was in the midst of pitching a gem until she combusted late. She kept the Sooners off balance with her off-speed pitches and managed to battle out of a two-out bases loaded situation in the bottom of the fifth.

But with the bases loaded in the sixth inning and one out, she walked in a run. And then another.

Down 5-2, Evans was left with no choice but to bring in Lauren Ainsley.

Ainsley responded to the call by walking in a run against the first batter she faced. Then she threw a wild pitch that scored another, helping the Sooners to a seven-run inning.

Evans knows her team let the most crucial game of the series get away from them. Against the best team in Division I softball, she knows that can't happen and expect to win.

Still, she expects her team to battle on Saturday.

"Like any team that has their back against the wall, you have no choice but to come out and regroup and get after it again tomorrow," Evans said. "I just felt like as the game progressed that this is a team we can compete with.

"I understand they have lots of weapons, so you just want to get beat by those weapons and not beat yourself."

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