Posted: 05/19/2012 | Last updated: May 19, 2012 at 08:20 AM
NORMAN, Okla. – The Oklahoma Sooners proved why they are one of the nation’s top teams as the fourth-seeded Sooners used a 13-run second inning to defeat Lehigh 19-3 in five innings Friday night in both teams’ opening game in the Norman Regional. Junior Liz Lucas belted a three-run home run to account for Lehigh’s runs as the Mountain Hawks fall to 40-18 on the season.
Lehigh will now meet Oregon State in an elimination game Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (CT). The Beavers used a four-run seventh-inning rally to force extra innings against Tulsa, but ultimately fell 9-7 in 11 innings.
Oklahoma (46-8) pounded out 17 hits including four home runs, while three Sooner pitchers limited Lehigh to just two hits. The Sooners will meet Tulsa in the winner’s bracket Saturday at 1 p.m.
Sooner ace Keilani Ricketts proved to be a dual threat as advertised, retiring all nine Mountain Hawks she faced while going 2-for-3 at the plate with a grand slam and a two-run triple to finish with a game-high six RBI.
"That was an incredible performance by Oklahoma," said Lehigh head coach Fran Troyan. "Coach Gasso has her team ready to play. I heard her say yesterday that her team had not peaked yet, but it certainly looked like they peaked tonight. Ricketts pitched great obviously, but everything they swung at they hit hard."
With the Sooners up 18-0 after three frames, Ricketts was relieved by Michelle Gascoigne, who retired the first two Lehigh batters in the fourth before issuing a walk to senior Jen Colquhoun. Senior Julie Fernandez then followed with a bloop single to center for Lehigh’s first hit, before Lucas stepped in and cranked her sixth home run of the season over the left field wall to put the Mountain Hawks on the board.
Oklahoma took an early 2-0 lead on a two-run home run by Lauren Chamberlain, her 26th of the year, in the bottom of the first.
The Sooners broke the game open in the second, sending 17 batters to the plate in a frame where they scored 13 runs on ten hits. Katie Norris drilled a two-run home run down the left field line and Ricketts followed soon after with her grand slam, which put OU up by eight. Norris struck again with a two-run double to right, before the Sooners capped the frame with a two-run single by Chamberlain and a triple to center by Ricketts. Oklahoma scored three more runs in the third and another in the fourth on a Brittany Williams home run to complete the offensive outburst.
Ricketts improved to 29-7 for Oklahoma with the win, while junior Becca Bliss was dealt the loss for the Mountain Hawks. Bliss lasted 1.2 innings, allowing 12 runs (seven earned) on nine hits, walking two. A Lehigh error in the second led to eight of the Sooners’ 13 runs in the frame being unearned. Sophomore Ashley Quigley went 1.1 innings allowing three earned runs on seven hits. Kelsey Lee pitched the fourth inning for Lehigh and gave up Williams’ home run.
The 19 runs were the most allowed by Lehigh since giving up 20 in a game back in 1991. The 19 Oklahoma runs did mark the most allowed by the Mountain Hawks in a NCAA tournament game and their largest margin of defeat. Lehigh is now 6-15 all-time in regional play.
"Whether you lose 2-1 or 19-3 it still counts as one loss," Troyan said. "Earlier in the year we had a real bad loss in the first game of a doubleheader at Hofstra and we came back and beat them the second game. Just like in basketball when you get beat by 30 points you go out and try to make some changes, some adjustments, maybe come back and play better and have a chance to win. Hopefully our team will make plays that they are capable of making and put a better foot forward than we did today."
The Mountain Hawks will now look to bounce back in an elimination game against Oregon State Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Lehigh has never faced Oregon State in softball and is 0-2 all-time against Pac-12 programs, with NCAA tournament losses to Arizona and Stanford. A Lehigh win would move the Brown and White into game five of the regional against the Oklahoma-Tulsa loser Saturday at 6 p.m. All of Lehigh’s NCAA Tournament action will be broadcast online for free at Lehighsports.com.