Sooners survive Arkansas comeback

The Sooners scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to secure a 10-5 win against No. 21 Arkansas Saturday afternoon.
With the win, Oklahoma secures its spot in the winners bracket in the finals of the Norman Regional and plays the winner of Saturday's 7 p.m. game at 1 p.m. Sunday
OU needs to secure just one win to move on to the Super Regionals of the NCAA tournament. The Sooners will have to lose twice on Sunday to be eliminated from the tournament.
Sooner softball coach Patty Gasso called today's game the biggest of the season for OU.
"What we just played was the biggest game of our season, and we knew that," Gasso said.
"Now every game that we play is the biggest of our season, but winning the first game is important because it puts you in a nice place. But winning this game sets you up big time."
There were runners on second and third at Marita Hynes Field when senior Michelle Gascoigne was handed the softball by starting pitcher Keilani Ricketts in the bottom of the sixth inning with a 6-5 lead.
The Razorbacks had chipped away at Ricketts all afternoon. Even when the senior pitcher hit her spots, Arkansas was able to put the bat on the ball if not reach base.
After giving up just four hits in the four innings against Arkansas (35-19), Ricketts allowed four hits and four runs in less than an inning, including a two-run shot to pinch-hitter Andrea Sullivan.
Sullivan finished the regular season batting 0.91 with one hit in 11 previous at-bats prior to the start of the game.
"I'm a left-handed pitcher, I've been throwing (batting practice) at these guys for a long time, and she just always murders me," said Arkansas softball coach Mike Larabee of Sullivan. "I just had a really good feeling."
Following a bases-loaded 2-run double by Clarisa Navarro, Gascoigne took the mound fresh, and struck out Chloe Oprzedek on three pitches to end the Razorback rally and the inning.
An RBI double from Callie Parson gave Gascoigne a two-run cushion and the Sooners a 7-5 lead. Sophomore Lauren Chamberlain put distance between OU (49-4) and Arkansas with a three-run double.
Chamberlain's last hit secured her second straight game of five RBIs. She hit 2-for-3 with two walks and broke the Big 12 record for runs scored in a season (73), coming across the plate twice.
"I've been seeing the ball pretty good," Chamberlain said. "Just keep things alive for my team again."
While newly-crowned Big 12 Player of the Year Shelby Pendley continued to slump, going hitless for the second game in the Norman Regional, the bottom of Gasso's order performed the heavy lifting.
The six, seven, eight and nine-hole batters accounted for seven of OU's 12 hits in the game.
6-hole hitter and left fielder Brittany Williams hit 3-for-3 with two RBIs, a run scored and finished a triple short of hitting for the cycle.
"Our seven, eight and nine [hitters], they just keep doing the job," Gasso said.
The Sooners likely benefited from not seeing Arkansas' best pitcher and All-Southeastern Conference performer Kimmy Beasley pitch.
Gasso said she expected to see Beasley and admitted being surprised when she didn't see her take the circle to start the game.
Larabee started senior and Ringling, Okla. native Hope McLemore instead. McLemore pitched 3.1 innings and gave up six hits, four runs and walked two.
Larabee said he wanted to give Beasley some rest, while giving McLemore (6-3) the opportunity to face the team she wasn't recruited by.
"She's really pitched well since the (Texas) A&M series, wanted to give her an opportunity," said Larabee of McLemore. "She kind of wanted to get recruited by OU. It didn't work out. I'm glad she's a Razorback."