NORMAN — Michelle Gascoigne didn’t expect to find herself in this position. Starting the final game of Oklahoma’s season while teammate and Player of the Year Keilani Ricketts watched from the dugout. Neither did most of the pundits, who predicted that for OU to secure the national championship it was favored to win, the Sooners would need Ricketts in the circle.
But there was one person who wasn’t surprised. And that was Ricketts, who gave no thought to herself when she emphatically endorsed coach Patty Gasso’s decision to go with Gascoigne before the Sooners squared off against Tennessee in the deciding game of the national championship series.
“We wouldn’t be in this game without her,” Ricketts said of fellow senior Gascoigne, who struck out 12 in a 4-0 victory to clinch the 2013 national title. “Michelle’s had tremendous success all year long. Just to be able to help her out means a lot because she’s been a great teammate for us. She’s really just been a leader for us.”
It was that support that Gascoigne said gave her the confidence she needed to take the field, where she affirmed her coaches’ and teammates’ faith by pitching one of the best postseason games in Oklahoma history. She allowed just three baserunners in the game and became the focal point of the celebration when she struck out the Volunteers’ Lexi Overstreet to end the game.
“Just with knowing that Keilani was all for it and she was supporting me and she was going to be in the bullpen if I needed her, just brought me all the confidence in the world,” she said. “I know my teammates trust me, and that is something that I’ve always taken out on the mound with me. It’s really carried me through this whole season just knowing that they trust me and we’ve got each other’s back.”