Oklahoma, Michigan set for rematch on Sunday
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Kristin Vesely set a school record for career hits and Savannah Long homered, tripled and stole a base as Oklahoma beat Kent State 9-1 in five innings on Saturday in the NCAA Division I softball regionals.
The Sooners (40-20-1) will meet defending national champ Michigan (42-13) on Sunday. The Wolverines beat Oklahoma 1-0 in nine innings Saturday, dropping the Sooners to the losers bracket. Oklahoma will have to beat Michigan twice to advance to an NCAA Super Regional next weekend.
Oklahoma eliminated the Golden Flashes (33-24) by beating them twice in two days. The second time was easier than Friday's 1-0 win. Oklahoma got 10 hits and six runs off Kent State starter Brittney Robinson (31-13), who had allowed just one run in 12 innings in her first two outings this weekend.
Vesely was 3-for-4, including a double, and climbed to 291 on the school's career hits list, two ahead of the Sooners' three-time All-American, Lisa Carey. Long was even more of a problem for Kent State, driving in four runs, including two on a homer to center field.
After No. 1 starter D.J. Mathis threw 16 innings in two 1-0 games Friday and Saturday, Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso called on Nicole Denes (13-5) to pitch. Denes allowed five hits, including a single and a double by Whitney Lebowitz.
Mathis and Denes might both get the ball if the Sooners can make it a doubleheader. To do that, they will have to beat Michigan standout Jennie Ritter, who has struck out 30 batters in her two starts this weekend and stretched her shutout streak to 44 innings.
In their game against Michigan on Saturday, Ritter outdueled Mathis on the mound and Alessandra Giampaolo had another key extra-base hit for the Wolverines.
Ritter (29-6) allowed three hits, struck out 15 batters for the second straight day and stretched her scoreless string to 44 innings for the Wolverines.
Giampaolo, the hitting star of Friday's win over Youngstown State, doubled with one out in the ninth, scoring Rebekah Milian, who reached base on a single to shortstop and moved to second on Becky Marx's sacrifice bunt.
An intentional walk to 2005 Women's College World Series hero Samantha Findlay only served to motivate Giampaolo, who drilled a mistake pitch over the head of fellow center fielder Kristin Vesely. Milian scored easily to end the matchup of past WCWS champs.
Mathis (15-8) was almost as sharp as she was in Friday's one-hit shutout of Kent State. She allowed eight hits and had seven strikeouts for the Sooners.
Ritter, whose ERA dipped to 0.58, stranded two runners in the third and sixth innings. Her biggest scare came in the second, when designated player Samantha Ricketts drilled a shot over the right-field fence, just foul for a long strike en route to another strikeout.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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