The Oklahoma softball team opened their 2013 season Friday with national championship expectations. All they did in their first two games of the Kajikawa Classic was watch their ace, Keilani Ricketts, throw a no-hitter in the opener and their ridiculously loaded lineup blast six home runs between the two games.
If Friday was any kind of indicator, it would appear the expectations might not be an issue.
As for that opener, Oklahoma was squaring off against the No. 21 ranked team Stanford and basically made it look like child's play. They opened the top half of the first inning with a three run home run from Jessica Shults, followed by a solo shot from Ricketts, followed by another solo shot from Arizona transfer Shelby Pendley. Yeah, you read that right. Back-to-back-to-back home runs in their first time through the lineup in this 2013 season.
Remember when we told you in our season preview article they basically had an all-star type lineup. Well, we weren't kidding.
All of that offense behind Rickett's second career no-hitter and a ho-hum fourteen strikeouts. You know, just your typical season opening performance.
The Sooners put up five runs in the first on those three home runs, added another in the second on a Lauren Chamberlain home run, and cruised to a 6-0 victory.
Later that afternoon, Oklahoma took on an unranked Oregon State team that actually jumped out to an early two run lead courtesy of a home run of their own in the first inning. Michelle Gascoigne was in the circle for this one and quickly settled down after giving up that pair of early runs. She would go on record nine strikeouts and just one walk in a complete game (five innings) performance.
However the offense, as it will likely be all season (even with Ricketts), was the story in this one. After falling behind 2-0, Oklahoma got one back in their half of the first to make it 2-1. Scored two in the bottom of the second to take a 3-2 lead, then put up an eleven spot in the fourth for the run rule shortened 14-2 victory.
In the game, sophomore superstar Lauren Chamberlain went two-for-two with two walks, both of her hits were home runs, one of which was a grand slam, and drove in six runs. Batting out of the leadoff spot this year in a decision that seemed somewhat curious, it's safe to say Hall of Fame coach Patty Gasso probably knows what she's doing.
In the two games on Friday, Chamberlain was a combined 4-4 with three home runs, seven RBIs, three walks, and six runs scored. Simply put, she is ridiculous.
It would have been difficult for this Oklahoma team to have been more impressive in their first two games. Admittedly, it was just two games but this team already has the look of one on a mission after falling just barely short of a national championship last year.
It's going to be a really fun, potentially special, year for this team and this was just the start of things to come.
Oklahoma returns to action Saturday with two more games. The first against Oregon at 10 a.m. (CST) and then later in the day against New Mexico. To follow the action in both and for outstanding coverage of the team in general, be sure to check out SoonerSports.com.