Turns out Mike Candrea's Arizona Wildcat softball team still hasn't found the magic potion against the Oklahoma Sooners.
After losing twice to OU during the regular season, Arizona was once again befuddled by masterful pitching from Sooner Keilani Ricketts in a 6-0 losing effort in Game 1 of the NCAA Super Regional at Hillenbrand Stadium Friday night.
In front of a national ESPNU audience, the Wildcats evened the Sooners with seven hits, but as was the theme of the night, loaded bases and two outs went in Oklahoma's favor and against Arizona's. Twice did they strand loaded bases, tallying seven hits on the night and scoring none.
On the other side of the ball, the Sooners posted only one more hit, but where Ricketts got the clutch outs, the Wildcat pitching staff struggled. Ace Kenzie Fowler was chased after four innings after giving up five hits. Freshman Shelby Babcock finished out the game but also allowed three hits, one of which was the cherry on top -- a home run by Ricketts in the seventh inning that pulled whatever hope left out of Hillenbrand's crowd.
The game was defensive from the jump, both Fowler and Ricketts keeping the pressure off the defenses. That was until a third inning which saw both teams load the bases. Fowler got out by allowing only one run in the inning, but Arizona couldn't push any runners home after loading the bases with two outs at the bottom of the period.
In the fourth, the Sooners swept in five runs quickly, jumping on Fowler pitches and then clearing in two more scores against Babcock.
As for the hitting, left fielder Lauren Schutzler and second baseman Kristen Arriola had two hits apiece. And if anything, seven hits showed that contact was being made with Ricketts pitches -- they just weren't getting the right part of the aluminum on the ball.
And with a crowd of more than 3,000 fans, even the enthusiasm remained despite a large scoring deficit. Tomorrow afternoon is Game 2 with an if-necessary Game 3 planned to be played after a short intermission should the Wildcats tie up the three-game series.
Will they take advantage of the home field?