NORMAN — It’s the Razorbacks who await Oklahoma in today’s first game after No. 24 Arkansas defeated Fordham 5-1 in the opener of the Norman regional on Friday.
After falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, the Razorbacks responded immediately, putting two runs on the board in the first inning and adding another pair in the second. That was more than enough for All-SEC pitcher Kimmy Beasley, who pitched a complete game, striking out eight and walking just two to lead Arkansas to victory.
Clarisa Navarro, who entered the weekend as Arkansas’ RBI leader with 35 on the season, added a pair to that total with a second-inning single up the middle that put her team firmly in control.
That sets the Razorbacks up for a 1 p.m. showdown today against Oklahoma with a spot in the regional final on the line.
“It’s great to get that first win,” coach Mike Larabee said. “We were anxious to get going, I thought we played a solid game. Our defense was great today and I thought we did a great job of communicating on defense.”
Chamberlain ties record: Lauren Chamberlain entered the tournament on a hot streak and continued her record-setting play in Friday’s 17-0 win over Marist.
The sophomore went 3 for 4 in the contest with four RBIs, including a three-run homer in the first inning that tied her with Amber Flores for second-most in Oklahoma history with 56 career shots. She almost broke that tie in the third inning, but her deep ball to right field was caught at the fence.
But the home run record wasn’t the only one she was chasing on Friday. She also tied the OU and Big 12 record for most runs scored in a season when she came around for her 71st of the year on the home run.
Questionable call helps Sooners: Oklahoma raced out to an 8-0 lead in the first inning of Friday’s opener against Marist, thanks in part to a questionable call at the plate.
The play came on what appeared to be a third strike to Georgia Casey. She swung through the pitch and the catcher dropped the ball, sending her sprinting toward first in an effort to beat out the tag, which would have been unsuccessful regardless because Lauren Chamberlain was on first.
However, the official behind the plate ruled that the pitch was fouled off, a call that brought Marist coach Joe Ausanio to home plate to complain and gave Casey an extra strike to work with.
The sophomore made the most of it, roping a double to left field to put two runners into scoring position, both of whom scored on Keilani Ricketts’ single two batters later.
Bottom of lineup still surging: Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso takes nearly every chance she gets to praise her 7-8-9 hitters. On Friday, the trio of Destinee Martinez, Callie Parson and Brianna Turang came up big again for the Sooners.
The three batters — all slappers rather than power hitters — combined to go 4 for 6 at the plate on Friday while putting up four RBIs. Martinez led the way, going 2 for 2 with a pair of RBIs.
Gasso plans to start Ricketts: After pitching just three innings on Friday, Ricketts is the likely starter today, coach Patty Gasso said after the game.
Ricketts gave up one hit and no runs while striking out seven in her three innings of work.
“What was nice is that we were able to rest Keilani and Michelle, going only five innings,” Gasso said.