NORMAN — Clinging to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh and seeking to upset the top-ranked team in the nation, Nebraska freshman Emily Lockman squared off against reigning USA Softball Player of the Year Keilani Ricketts in the game’s final at-bat.
And, though it took seven pitches after an 0-2 count, it was the freshman who won this contest against the Oklahoma senior, striking out Ricketts to end the game and OU’s 17-game winning streak at the same time.
The 1-0 upset by No. 25 Nebraska (12-5) handed the Sooners their first loss of the year and earned the Huskers a measure of revenge after dropping the first game of the doubleheader 10-3.
After OU’s offense stole the show in the first game, it was a pitchers’ battle from the start in the nightcap. Michelle Gascoigne was nearly perfect for the Sooners, giving up just two hits while striking out seven over seven innings of work. But that was more than enough for the Huskers, who scored the only run of the game on a solo shot by Tatum Edwards in the top of the fifth. The blast easily cleared the left-field wall and set the stage for the upset after the Sooners stranded runners in the sixth and seventh innings.
“They came out ready to play,” senior Jessica Shults said. “We left a lot of runners on base, and we can’t do that. It stings a little bit to get our first loss of the season. This game definitely fired us up.”
Coach Patty Gasso said she could tell that some of her team began pressing as the game went on, and played passively for too long.
“We were letting the game go on and just going with it rather than taking control,” she said. “It’s something they have to take and learn a lesson from.”
In the first game, the Sooners showed exactly how explosive they are on offense as well as how they can respond under pressure.
OU jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, but several mistakes allowed the Huskers to tie the game in the top of the fifth inning. A hit batter and a fielding error brought in the three runs for Nebraska and tied the game.
But if the Huskers stepped up the pressure, the Sooners didn’t show any signs of noticing. Shelby Pendley reached base and later narrowly avoided a tag at home plate on a Destinee Martinez single to put the Sooners back on top.
And the barrage didn’t stop there. Nebraska pitcher Tatum Edwards gave up a single to Lauren Chamberlain that allowed another two runs and walked three to load the bases for Jessica Shults. And the senior All-American put the nail in the coffin with a hard line drive that got past the left-fielder and brought in three runs for the Sooners and pushed the lead to 10-3, where it remained after Nebraska’s rally attempt in the top of the seventh fizzled despite loading the bases.
Keilani Ricketts picked up her ninth win of the season, striking out eight while giving up just one earned run. Shults led the Sooners with three RBIs, while Chamberlain and Ricketts added two each.
Next up for OU is a rematch against Houston (10-6) at noon today at Marita Hynes Field. The Sooners defeated the Cougars 6-0 on Friday.
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