early-season upset with a 4-1 victory over No. 6 Oklahoma yesterday in the Cathedral City Classic in California.
With two sisters in the Sooners dugout, Ricketts earned a complete-game victory in UH’s opening game in the tournament. The junior right-hander limited the Sooners, who began the day hitting .399 with 23 home runs, to six hits and an unearned run and struck out nine while improving to 7-1.
"I was just really focused," Ricketts said. "With all the distractions playing your sister, you have to be focused or you’re going to be all over the place."
UH catcher Sharla Kliebenstein homered to give the Wahine the lead and left fielder Alex Aguirre went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs for the Wahine (12-1).
Ricketts’ younger sister, Oklahoma sophomore Keilani, entered the game in the fourth inning and struck out five over 3 2/3 innings of relief. Older sister Samantha is a graduate assistant with the Sooners coaching staff.
While Keilani didn’t get the pitching start for the Sooners, she went 1-for-3 off of Stephanie as Oklahoma’s designated player. Stephanie caught Keilani looking in the second inning, giving her strikeouts against both sisters in her career.
"I didn’t even know what they were ranked," UH head coach Bob Coolen said. "All I heard before the game was Ricketts vs. Ricketts."
By the time the anticipated pitching matchup between the Ricketts sisters materialized, the UH offense had given Stephanie a 3-0 lead off of OU starter Michelle Gascoigne (3-2) and reliever Allee Allen.
Kliebenstein gave UH the lead in the top of the second inning with her sixth home run of the season, a blast to left field.
"Sharla hit a bomb," Coolen said. "That was huge for Sharla to step up. The fields here are huge, so there aren’t a lot of players hitting home runs in this tournament."
UH shortstop Jessica Iwata doubled in the third inning and scored on a single by Aguirre. Melissa Gonzalez followed with another single to center to bring Aguirre around from second.
Keilani Ricketts — who struck out 12 in a complete-game 1-0 loss to Georgia just prior to the Sooners’ game against UH — entered the game with one out and two runners on in the top of the fourth inning. She struck out Kelly Majam and Iwata to end the threat.
The Sooners broke through with an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth. With two out and a runner on first, Destinee Martinez reached on an error and Brittany Williams singled to drive in Brianna Turang. The Sooners loaded the bases and Ricketts struck out Haley Nix to preserve the UH lead.
The Wahine padded the lead with a run in the top of the seventh. Majam singled with one out, went to second on a groundout and scored on Aguirre’s second RBI single of the game.
Ricketts allowed her third walk with two out in the bottom of the seventh but got Jessica Shults, who entered the tournament hitting .538 with nine home runs, to ground out to shortstop to end the game.
The Rainbow Wahine face No. 18/22 Nebraska and Syracuse today. UH sophomore Kaia Parnaby is expected to get the start against Nebraska, with Ricketts facing Syracuse. UH concludes its road trip tomorrow against Virginia.
Stephanie Ricketts and Sharla Kliebenstein. Michelle Gascoigne, Allee Allen (3), Keilani Ricketts (4) and Jessica Shults. W–Ricketts (7-1). L–Gascoigne (3-2).
Leading hitters—UH: Alex Aguirre 2-4, run, 2 RBIs; Kliebenstein, HR; Sarah Robinson 2-3; Jessica Iwata 2b. OU: Brittany Williams 2-3, RBI.