The Norman Transcript

June 7, 2012

Rain hurts almost as much as lost chances


The Norman Transcript

OKLAHOMA CITY — For Oklahoma, immortality will have to wait.

Justice, too.

Give the Sooners an assist Wednesday night and early Thursday morning at Hall of Fame Stadium, for they failed to right the ship in time. And still, understand well this was no way to determine a national champion.

But it did.

Alabama.

The Crimson Tide stopped the Sooners 5-4 at 12:31 Thursday morning. They did it, more than anything, with a quartet of fourth-inning runs.

It just happened to be the same inning the rains came back to northeast Oklahoma City, which just happened to coincide with a walk and three wild pitches — Sooner pitcher Keilani Ricketts unable to control the ball out of her fingers — that led directly to the Crimson Tide’s first run of the game.

That was the moment OU coach Patty Gasso came out of her dugout for the second time to confer with the umpires, and the moment Ricketts made this expression with her arms that told the story, told everybody what the heck was she supposed to do with a slick and soaked ball that kept slipping out of her left hand.

So the game was postponed.

Just maybe, long enough for everybody to put their ponchos on.

Play resumed, Alabama and its fans remained in a frenzy, Ricketts gave up a hit to Amanda Locke, a double to Courtney Conley that tied the game … and then the Sooners did it to themselves.

Fielding Jazlyn Lunceford’s grounder, shortstop Jessica Vest threw it in the mud in front of first baseman Lauren Chamberlain, who couldn’t handle it, who then picked up the ball and threw home even worse than Vest had thrown to her, allowing Conley to cross and the Tide to take the lead.

Simply put, it was the worst, most forgettable and unnecessary half inning in the history of Sooner softball.

It cost OU a national championship.

It was bad enough that everybody was held hostage to a 9:55 p.m. start, a start that would make certain the most important game of the entire college softball season would be played in rain everybody knew would eventually return.

It was bad enough all other interests were placed in front of the interests of the best possible game on the most important night of the season.

It was a crime Ricketts was made to stand in the circle as though standing in the shower, long enough to uncork wild pitch after wild pitch after wild pitch, giving away all the momentum the Sooners had secured with a second-inning solo home run from, who else, Ricketts, and a two-run, third-inning blast from Chamberlain.

It was horribly unfortunate, for the second straight game, OU had to be a party to its own destruction, again failing to make the plays in the field any championship team should make.

But it didn’t make them.

The Sooners’ last line of defense on a horrible night from Mother Nature and the ESPN and NCAA powers that be, as luck would have it, was their actual defense.

It failed.

One more Crimson Tide run in the fifth didn’t help much either.

The only saving grace was Brianna Turang got to lead off the top of the seventh.

Put in the leadoff slot by Gasso after Georgia Casey had been holding down the spot since NCAA play began, it meant the top of the Sooner order would have one more chance at Alabama pitcher Jackie Traina.

Turang was just out at first after a hot shot to shortstop Kaila Hunt. Destinee Martinez ran into first baseman Cassie Reilly-Boccia and was called out for interfering. And oh, what a play that turned out to be when Lauren Chamberlain, next up, hit her second home run of the game.

Then Ricketts struck out.

Looking.

You can’t do that either.

It wasn’t right.

It wasn’t right at all.

It was just over.

Clay Horning 366-3526 cfhorning@normantranscript.com