Feb. 10, 2013
Site: Tempe, Ariz. (Tempe Sports Complex)
Score: No. 2 Oklahoma 7, Northwestern 4
Records: NU (0-5), Oklahoma (5-0)
Next NU Event: Friday through Sunday, Feb. 15-17, 2013 -- Georgia Softball Classic (Athens, Ga.)
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Northwestern gave No. 2 Oklahoma all it could handle Sunday morning at the Kajikawa Classic, chasing reigning USA Softball Player of the Year Keilani Ricketts from the circle amid a mid-game surge, but ultimately the Sooners prevailed in a 7-4 decision.
NU suffered its second tight loss to a ranked foe on the weekend, and will return to action next weekend at the Georgia Softball Classic. No. 2 Oklahoma now is 5-0 on the season with a 6-0 no-hitter of No. 21 Stanford and three 5-inning run-rule victories (including one over No. 5 Oregon) in addition to its squeaker over the Wildcats Sunday morning.
Northwestern sophomore Amy Letourneau (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) allowed a leadoff walk to begin the game before shutting down the heart of the Sooners' order, including a K of the No. 3 batter, to end the top of the first.
In the bottom of the first, senior Kristin Scharkey (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza) led off with a sharp single over the head of the third baseman for the first hit of the season given up by Ricketts. Earlier in the Kajikawa Classic, Ricketts no-hit No. 21 Stanford and No. 5 Oregon.
The inning continued with a one-out single by Marisa Bast
(Orange, Calif./Villa Park) and an error on a grounder off the bat of Letourneau to load the bases with one out. A fielder's choice grounder then erased Scharkey at the plate before the threat ended with no runs across.
In the top of the second, Oklahoma worked the bases loaded with one out on two walks and a bunt single. Letourneau fanned the next batter swinging, but a hit by pitch and bases-loaded walk gave the Sooners a 2-0 edge before the inning ended.
After struggling to find the big hit all season long, Northwestern put together a big inning the third to chase Ricketts from the game. The frame began with a solid Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) single into left before Bast beat out a single of her own. The throw on Bast's ball got away, allowing Majam to move to third. Letourneau brought the first run in on a fielder's choice ball before Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) cleared the bases with a searing triple to right to put the Wildcats on top, 3-2. At that point, Ricketts left the game in favor of Michelle Gascoigne, whose first pitch was driven to left by Aubrie May (La Mesa, Calif./Grossmont) for a sacrifice fly to make it a 4-2 game.
Oklahoma bounced back in the fourth with a game-tying two-run home run, then Letourneau retired the No. 3 and 4 batters in the lineup on dink grounders before walks and a double down the right field line that curved so far foul it left the playing field parallel to the foul line and was called ground rule. Another run would come home after all of that to stake the Sooners to a 5-4 edge.
Northwestern got leadoff doubles in both the fourth (Scharkey) and fifth (Edwards) innings, but both times Gascoigne was able to escape the threats and preserve the Sooners' lead.
Oklahoma added some insurance to its total in the top of the seventh, taking advantage of a one-out NU error to hit a two-run home run for a 7-4 lead. Northwestern was unable to conjure up any more magic in the bottom of the inning.
Edwards, Bast and Scharkey all had a pair of hits to lead NU at the plate, with Edwards recording a triple, a double and two RBIs.
Letourneau (0-3) took the loss but fought the entire game, fanning 10 Oklahoma batters while allowing seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and 11 walks.
Northwestern is back in action Feb. 15-17 at the Georgia Softball Classic featuring Georgia, Middle Tennessee State and Campbell in Athens, Ga.
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