The Norman Transcript

May 25, 2013

Sooners reminded why they play the game

By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Sydney Angle couldn’t be at Friday’s game. The 9-year-old was at Plaza Towers Elementary during the devastating tornado that struck Moore on Monday, and was one of the children killed there.

But her sister Casey was at the game, wearing her sister’s jersey to honor her memory while serving as Oklahoma’s bat girl.

It was an emotional experience for both the family and the Sooners. OU met with Sydney’s team, Bring it ’04, earlier in the week and brought the squad out to Marita Hynes Field for Friday’s game.

For the Sooners, who approached Friday’s contest saying they wanted to provide a “distraction” for their fans. Having Casey in the dugout throughout the game was a reminder of that, and assistant coach Melyssa Lombardi said it was an inspiring event for her team.

“Having her in our dugout is a reminder that, yes we’re in the middle of a super regional, but let’s just go out, relax and play,” she said. “There’s people now that don’t have their homes and they’re dealing with tragedy. Meeting her team gave them a chance to see why they originally started playing this game, to play with their friends and have fun playing the game of softball.”

Gasso rushes to graduation: Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso didn’t stick around long after the Sooners run-ruled Texas A&M on Friday. In fact, she left immediately after OU wrapped up the win.

The reason? Her son DJ, a senior at Norman North, graduated on Friday night.

Assistant coach Melyssa Lombardi took her place in postgame interviews.

“We were hoping to play a great game so we could get her on her way,” she said after Keilani Ricketts ended the game in walk-off fashion with a three-run bomb in the sixth inning.

Aggies bring power, but little else: Texas A&M didn’t have consistent success hitting off of Keilani Ricketts on Friday. The Aggies managed just three hits while striking out 13 times.

But, typical for this team, when they did make contact the ball went a long way.

Texas A&M entered the game with 100 combined home runs in its starting lineup, compared to 79 for the Sooners, a power-hitting team in their own right. And the Aggies continued that trend on Friday, sending a pair of solo shots over the wall.

Meagan May had the first one, breaking up the no-hitter in the third with a high pop fly that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and rolled behind it. Cali Lanphear followed that up in the next inning with a blast deep over the right field wall.

Top of Aggie lineup struggles: After a below-average performance last weekend, OU’s Keilani Ricketts entered Friday’s game on-point. She finished with 13 strikeouts and was especially dominant against the top of Texas A&M’s batting order.

The Aggies’ top three hitters — Jenna Stark, Emily Albus and Amber Garza — combined to go 1 for 9 and strike out eight times. Albus was the only one to break through against Ricketts, reaching on an infield bunt in the sixth inning before Ricketts came back with two straight strikeouts to end the threat.

Casey streak: Georgia Casey’s 14-game hitting streak came to an end on Friday after she went hitless with a walk in three at-bats.

She entered the game having hit safely in 18 of her last 19 games, but ground out in both at-bats before walking in the final inning. He streak had been the longest since Amber Flores also went 14 games in 2009.

Gascoigne named All-American: Michelle Gascoigne had already earned several honors this season, and she can add one more to that list after being named to the Capital One Academic All-American second team on Thursday.

Gascoigne, who has been an instrumental part of a 1-2 pitching punch with Keilani Ricketts this season, is the first Sooner named to the team since 2007 when Norrelle Dickson accomplished the feat. Gascoigne is active in extracurricular activities besides softball and was eligible for the award by virtue of holding a GPA above 3.30.

On the field, she has an 18-3 record and a .92 earned run average, tops in the country.

Corbin Hosler

Follow me @Chosler88