OKLAHOMA CITY — Michigan coach Carol Hutchins could only watch.
No matter how much encouraging of her batters, or moving her runners around the bases, Hutchins watched as Oklahoma right-hander Keilani Ricketts stymied the No. 7 Michigan softball team.
Ricketts threw a complete-game no-hitter as No. 1 Oklahoma dominated the Wolverines, 7-1, in the opening round of the Women’s College World Series.
“I think you give credit where credit is due,” Hutchins said. “Oklahoma was all Oklahoma. They were as good as advertised.
“You can’t give a great team anything. And we gave them a little much.”
It was Ricketts’s sixth no-hitter of the season and the first thrown in the WCWS since 2007. Ricketts, the national Player of the Year, struck out 12 and walked just two on a team that sits second nationally in runs scored per game.
“Once Michigan scored that kind of woke us up a little, because we knew they were going to be scoring runs,” Ricketts said. “We knew we had to respond back to that. And my defense was amazing behind me.”
Added Hutchins: “She came right at us. She used that famous crop duster, and when she brought that changeup out of her pocket, she was deadly. She was deadly and she was in command, she was in complete command.”
In the third inning, sophomore left fielder Sierra Lawrence reached second base on a throwing error to lead off for Michigan. After two fielder’s choice hits, Lawrence reached home safely, just before the tag could be applied. The Wolverines would strand two runners on base, though.
And the Sooners, who boast the nation’s best offense, made up ground quick, with four runs in the bottom of the inning.
Beginning with an error to lead off, Oklahoma used two consecutive singles to tie the game. Three batters latter, senior catcher Jessica Shultz smacked a two-run single to center field that provided enough insurance for Ricketts to work with.
“Things change, and even then, when they don’t, we just have to stay tough and get right on them,” said sophomore right-hander Sara Driesenga. “I think I just tightened up a little bit, trying a little bit too hard.”
Driesenga struggled to find the zone in the ensuing innings, and paid the price on a drop ball that Oklahoma sophomore Lauren Chamberlain hit out of the park in the fourth. The Hudsonville, Mich. native allowed nine hits while walking three in six innings of work.
The Sooners singled home another run in the fifth inning, as Callie Parsons singled home the final run of the game to a home crowd of more than 8,000 fans.
Michigan could never mount anything against Ricketts, though, as she walked her first batter in the sixth inning of the game. Michigan made a charge in the seventh inning with two runners on the base, but a groundout by junior Lyndsay Doyle ended the laat threat.
The Wolverines will take on No. 5 Arizona State Saturday, in a rematch of a game on March 15. Michigan prevailed 5-4, against the then second-ranked Sun Devils, but aren’t betting on history to repeat itself.
“What my team needs to take confidence in, is they have beaten a number of great teams this season,” Hutchins said. “But we have two teams with their backs against the wall and they’re fighting to stay alive and they get to keep playing together. I expect a game.“