By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — It was Oklahoma’s offense that broke school records in Friday’s dominating win over Iowa State. On Sunday, it was pitcher Keilani Ricketts who completed the cycle, throwing a no-hitter in a 12-0, five-inning run-rule victory over the Cyclones and setting a pair of school records in the process.
Ten of the Sooners’ 15 outs came by way of Ricketts’ strikeouts as she threw her fourth no-hitter of the season and fifth of her career, setting a school record in both categories.
“It feels good, obviously,” Ricketts said of setting the record. “I definitely wouldn’t be able to do it without feeding off my teammates. I was just focusing on keeping control of my pitches because Iowa State’s been putting a lot of runs people and I know game three is always a lot tougher.”
It was another impressive performance in a season full of them. After not allowing a hit in two innings of work on Friday before giving way to Leslie Miller, Ricketts was given the chance to go the whole way on Sunday, and she did so efficiently, throwing 63 strikes in 92 pitches and giving Iowa State (19-29, 3-11) just three baserunners through five innings. She also passed 1,500 career strikeouts in the victory while throwing her first no-hitter at Marita Hynes Field.
“Keilani’s starting to come to the place where she wants to be,” coach Patty Gasso said. “I started to see it last weekend against Texas, and she was really good again this weekend.”
After outscoring Iowa State 32-1 through the first two games, the Sooners (43-3, 11-1) didn’t let off the gas on Sunday. Behind a pair of Lauren Chamberlain doubles, the Sooners put seven runs on the board in the first and led 11-0 after two innings. Ricketts also helped herself at the plate, sending a two-run homer run over right field in the first inning.
“I feel like we’re really starting to play some really good softball,” coach Patty Gasso said. “We came out every day this weekend really bringing it. We’re all on the same page and everybody’s contributing.”
For the third game in a row, “everybody” meant almost every Sooner on the roster. Eighteen players got on the field, and 11 different batters reached base. Chamberlain led OU by going 2 for 2 with three RBIs and a walk, while Ricketts and Georgia Casey and Destinee Martinez all added a pair of RBIs.
Gasso felt comfortable putting in the reserves after the Sooners exploded in the first inning for the third day in a row. After Sunday’s 7-0 start after one frame, the Sooners increased their first-inning advantage over the Cyclones to 23-0 and outscored Iowa State 44-1 on the weekend.
With the win, OU maintained its Big 12 lead over Texas and is on track to win the conference title if the Sooners can win five of their last six games, with a series at Kansas next weekend being followed by a three-game set against Oklahoma State in Bedlam.
For the record: OU moved to 43-3 and 11-1 in Big 12 play while Iowa State fell to 19-29, 4-11 in conference.
Inside the game: Keilani Ricketts was working on a no-hitter in the fourth inning when a great defensive play by Erin Miller helped preserve it. Iowa State launched one to left field, one of the few times the Cyclones made solid contact, and Miller rushed the ball, making a sliding catch inches off the ground to get the out. Ricketts followed that up by forcing a groundout to complete the inning, and an inning later, the no-hitter.
Stat of the game: Ten strikeouts. That's how many Keilani Ricketts fanned on Sunday, moving her already school-best career count to 1,501.
Notes of note: The Sooners outscored Iowa State 21-0 in the first inning through the course of the series… They also outscored the Cyclones 44-1 overall through three games… Texas, the only team in the Big 12 capable of catching the Sooners in the conference race, stayed a game back by sweeping Texas Tech… OU's lineup yielded seven hits in the first nine batters… Keilani Ricketts remained perfect on stolen bases, getting her eighth of the season.
On deck: The Sooners have most of the week off before returning to action at 2 p.m. Friday for a doubleheader at Kansas.
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