After a come-from-behind, extra-inning victory in Game 1 of the Women’s College World Series for the Oklahoma Sooners, Tennessee has its back against the wall, needing a win in Game 2 to force a winner-take-all Game 3.
On Monday night, Oklahoma had the bases loaded with just one out in the bottom of the ninth inning of a scoreless Game 1. Oklahoma couldn’t manage to score the game-winning run, though, and the contest would need extra innings to be decided.
In the top of the 11th with two women on base, Madison Shipman launched a three-run home run to center field, giving the Lady Volunteers a commanding lead and just three outs away from a victory over the No. 1 team in the nation.
But Oklahoma wasn’t ready to get behind in the series just yet. The Lady Sooners put two runs on the board and had the tying run at third base with two down in the bottom half of the 11th. Callie Parsons then hit a fly ball into the gap in left-center, scoring Destinee Martinez from third to tie the game, but Parsons was thrown out at third base trying to stretch a double into a triple.
Oklahoma kept Tennessee from scoring in the top of the 12th and in the bottom of the frame, the Lady Sooners decided enough was enough. Brianna Turang led off with a double and then Lauren Chamberlain crushed a pitch that landed just to the right of the left-field foul pole for a two-run walk-off home run.
With Oklahoma’s 5-3 victory in Game 1, the Lady Sooners are just one win away from a National Championship. Tennessee will need to win back-to-back games against Oklahoma in order to clinch their first title.
Below is everything that you need to know about Game 2 of the Women’s College World Series between the Oklahoma Lady Sooners and the Tennessee Lady Volunteers.
When: Tuesday, June 4 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Live Stream: WatchESPN
What They’re Saying
Much of the hype in Game 1 surrounded Oklahoma pitcher Keilani Ricketts, who allowed three earned runs on five hits while walking six and striking out 13 across 12 innings of work. She threw 188 pitches in the game, an extremely high total.
Here’s what Chamberlain told Graham Hays of ESPN about her teammate after the game:
“I think her chase for perfection, always, is something I admire about her,” Chamberlain said. “She’s always trying to reach the pinnacle of what she’s capable of, and I think that rubs off on a bunch of our team—it does definitely for me. She’s a hard work, really tries to perfect her skills. I think that’s a cool quality to have when you have so much influence on your teammates and other people around you that can puck up on that.”
Ricketts is now 35-1 on the year with a 1.23 ERA and her co-coach, Ralph Weekly, told Hays that, “She just was probably the best I’ve seen her.”
Here’s what Ricketts told Guerin Emig of the Tulsa World about pitching in Game 2 of the series:
Tennessee Player to Watch: Ellen Renfroe
Someone had to be on the losing end of Monday night’s showdown and it turned out being Tennessee pitcher Ellen Renfroe. While Renfroe did take the loss, she was nearly as brilliant as Ricketts was throughout the entire game.
Renfroe allowed five earned runs on 10 hits through 11 innings of work. She walked just three batters and struck out 13, totaling 180 pitches on the evening. The junior right-hander is 19-5 on the year with a 1.86 ERA in 196 innings of work.
Oklahoma’s bats are tough to sit down, and the only way that Tennessee ties the series up is if Renfroe pitches another gem. When the Lady Sooners threaten, she needs to paint the outside corners of the plate and hope that Oklahoma fails to capitalize on golden opportunities.
Oklahoma Player to Watch: Lauren Chamberlain
The Oklahoma first baseman is the one who hit the game-winning shot for the Lady Sooners. She went 2-for-6 off of Renfroe on the evening with the two-run home run and a strikeout. Chamberlain’s other hit was a double in the third inning.
Chamberlain, Oklahoma’s leadoff hitter, is hitting .463/.623/1.107 through 56 games this season with 27 home runs, 79 RBI and 80 runs. She has an incredible eye at the plate and has struck out just 21 times this year while walking 59 times.
Chamberlain is the one that provides the spark atop the lineup for Oklahoma, and if she can put together a couple of early hits, they could lead to runs, which would certainly help Ricketts on the mound. If Chamberlain can’t come through against Renfroe in Game 2, Oklahoma’s offense will need to be led by someone else.
Who wins Game 2?
Tennessee has to be proud of how far it’s come this season, but the Lady Volunteers don’t really stand a chance against Oklahoma in Game 2. If Tennessee were going to win this series, it would’ve been able to close the Lady Sooners out in the 12th inning of Game 1.
Ricketts is very tough to beat on the mound, and if her offense gives her just a couple of runs, that could be enough to clinch the National Championship.
The Lady Sooners will win Game 2 and the title, 6-1.