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May 19, 2013

Sooners have to battle their way into regional final following Razorbacks’ rally

NORMAN — Arkansas didn’t panic. Even down five runs and down to their final out in the sixth inning, the Razorbacks responded with a series of hits against Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Keilani Ricketts, scoring four runs to cut the Oklahoma lead to 6-5.

Luckily for the Sooners, neither did Michelle Gascoigne.

The senior came on in relief of Ricketts after the fourth run scored and Arkansas still with two runners in scoring position. Three pitches and one strikeout later, the threat was over.

And the rest of Gascoigne’s teammates took their cue from her. With two outs in the bottom half of inning, the Sooners loaded the bases for Lauren Chamberlain, who doubled off the center field wall to break open the game and set the stage for the Sooners’ 10-5 victory.

“I try to bring a closer mentality,” Gascoigne said. “It’s not common in softball to have a closer, so I try to take a baseball mentality out there. Keilani was working hard out there, and I wanted to come in and have her back.”

She did, and thanks to that the Sooners will find themselves in the regional championship game at 1 p.m. today, needing to win one of two games to advance to the super regional next week.

“That’s the experience of a team that was at the college world series last year,” coach Patty Gasso said. “When Michelle came in and did her job you could feel that we knew we needed to do something. As long as we have one out to play with, everyone’s locked in and ready to play hard. We don’t sit back and pout, we just come out and fight and play to win.”

On Saturday, the Sooners had contributions from every part of the lineup. Though Chamberlain led the way with five RBIs for the second straight day, she had plenty of help. Brittany Williams went 3 for 3 with two RBIs, including a solo home run in the third inning, and the bottom of the lineup again came through for the Sooners late in the game.

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