By CORBIN HOSLER
On the day she earned her 116th win to become the winningest pitcher in Oklahoma history, Keilani Ricketts showed Baylor exactly why she’s the defending USA Softball player of the year.
The senior allowed just four hits in a complete-game shutout of No. 17 Baylor, and top-ranked OU did enough at the plate to pull out a 8-0 six-inning run-rule victory to sweep the first Big 12 series of the season.
Ricketts was at her best for much of the day Sunday, going perfect through three innings while the Sooners (34-2, 3-0) took control of the game. She finished with five strikeouts, frustrating the Baylor (29-10, 3-5) lineup for the third day in a row. The win moved Ricketts past Jennifer Stewart into sole possession of first place on the all-time wins list in program history.
“This means a lot with the tradition of excellence here, to be in that category,” Ricketts said. “I knew they were going to be a lot more patient at the plate because I wasn’t getting ahead in the count in the last two games. So today I focused on that.”
Coach Patty Gasso referred to Ricketts as “a legend,” and said she was honored to part of her career.
“She’s one of the most special players that softball will see for a long, long time,” she said. “It’s been really fun to watch her progression from a freshman. She’s worked hard to get better every year and it’s so enjoyable to watch her progress that way and be a leader of this team on the field.”
On Sunday, Ricketts got plenty of help from her teammates, as the Sooners had no issue connecting against starting pitcher Whitney Canion. Six of the first eight Sooner batters to face Canion made hit the ball deep into the outfield, including a solo home by Shelby Pendley, while the other two batters walked.
The Sooners added another run in the third on a bases-loaded walk to Brittany Williams after the Bears intentionally walked Ricketts to load the bases, and got another in the fourth on a Georgia Casey single.
With Ricketts dealing, the Sooners exploded in the sixth inning to end the game prematurely. Lauren Chamberlain started the big inning with a 2-run home run, her eighteenth of the season, and Callie Parsons ended the game a few batters later with a 2-RBI single to clinch the run-rule win.
“I thought we really played well this weekend,” Gasso said. “It was a great atmosphere and a great crowd. Our hitters did a fantastic job of being patient and working counts. Keilani getting out and getting ahead in the count created good momentum for us in the dugout and the team was feeding off each other.”
Next up for OU is a 6:30 p.m. Wednesday game against North Texas at Marita Hynes Field.
For the record
No. 1 OU moved to 34-2 on the year and 3-0 in conference play after taking the game over No. 17 Baylor, which fell to 29-10 and 3-5 in Big 12 play.
Inside the game
Holding a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning, a near-error on Baylor gave the Sooners a big break. Brianna Turang attempted to steal second but was behind the throw to the bag. However, the Bear couldn't hold onto the ball and Turang was ruled safe. That allowed Georgia Casey's deep single to score Turang two batters later put OU on top 3-0.
Notes of note
Chamberlain's home run was her 18th of the season, and Pendley's was her 10th… Ricketts' complete game was the first by any pitcher in the series… Baylor's Whitney Canion, who entered the weekend with one of the best ERAs in the Big 12, pitched for two different stints on Sunday and was ineffective both times… Baylor walked seven OU batters and hit one… OU outscored Baylor 25-6 in three games.
On deck: Next up for OU is a 6:30 p.m. game Wednesday against North Texas at Marita Hynes Field.