OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Defending champion Arizona State was eliminated from the Women’s College World Series on Sunday with a 5-3 loss to Oklahoma.
Katie Norris homered and Keilani Ricketts struck out 13 for the fourth-seeded Sooners, who advanced to the Women’s College World Series finals with the win.
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“This has been a great experience for us. We fell a little short,” ASU coach Clint Myers said.
Oklahoma (53-8) struck for four runs in the third inning against ASU starter Dallas Escobedo to take control. Ricketts had an RBI single to tie it at 2-2, and Jessica Shults followed with a two-run double that nicked right-fielder Alix Johnson’s glove as she stretched out to try to catch it.
Shults then came in to score when third baseman Haley Steele lost Norris’ potential inning-ending popup and let it fall.
Annie Lockwood had a two-run double in the first that scored Alix Johnson and Amber Freeman, who had reached via a walk and single through the left side, respectively.
But Ricketts was able to limit Arizona State to just one run the rest of the way despite giving up eight hits and four walks. Ricketts, the national player of the year, improved to 36-7.
Norris hit a solo shot over the center-field fence in the bottom of the second to cut the deficit to 2-1 before Oklahoma took control with the four-run third inning.
The Sun Devils made it 5-3 in the fifth on an RBI groundout by Katelyn Boyd that brought in Elizabeth Caporuscio, who had singled earlier in the inning.
Escobedo was charged with four earned runs on nine hits and a walk to go along with eight strikeouts. She dropped to 24-8 on the year, with three of her losses coming in the NCAA tournament.
“It was very tough,” said Escobedo, a starter who went unbeaten in tournament play last year as a freshman. “I went in and knew they were a great lineup. I was excited. We played them twice last year, so I knew kind of an idea what they had to offer. And I felt great. I felt like I pitched a great game.”
ASU finished the season 53-11, coming up four wins short of becoming just the third program to win back-to-back national titles.
“We started three freshmen and two sophomores, and we’re young,” Myers said. “So those freshmen will be sophomores. Those sophomores will be juniors, and we’ll be back here. We’ll be back here.”