OKLAHOMA CITY -- Cal's hitters were overpowered on Friday by left-hander Keilani Ricketts, who struck out 16 Golden Bears in a 3-0 Oklahoma victory at the Women's College World Series.
The strikeout total for Ricketts, a former Archbishop Mitty High-San Jose star, was two shy of the WCWS record for a seven-inning game, set by Cat Osterman in 2006.
"I think she showed why she's the player of the year," Cal star Valerie Arioto said. "She did a good job of keeping us off balance. Obviously, we need to do a better job of putting the ball in play."
The loss sends top-seeded Cal (57-6) into an elimination game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN against the winner of the early Tennessee-Oregon game. The Bears will need to win that game, then sweep a Sunday doubleheader in order to advance to the best-of-three championship series, which begins Monday.
Ricketts had at least two strikeouts in each of the first six innings, recording all outs via the strikeout in the first, third and fourth. The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, Ricketts allowed just two hits, facing 27 batters and walking two.
Oklahoma pounded out five hits, including a solo home run by Georgia Casey in the sixth inning, and Cal hurt itself by committing three errors.
"We just did not play our best ball today," Cal coach Diane Ninemire said. "We did not hit the ball well, and defensively I don't even remember last time I've seen this team make three errors. What I do know is that this team is a very strong team, I know that our backs are against the wall, but I know that they'll be able to come back from this."
The Bears' best scoring chance came in the sixth, when Jamia Reid opened by reaching on a grounder to third when Lauren Chamberlain dropped the throw at first base. The Sooners opted to walk Arioto, a national player of the year finalist, to bring the tying run to the plate. Reid stole third on the final pitch of Arioto's walk, and Arioto swiped second moments later.
Ricketts then struck out Frani Echavarria swinging and Jace Williams looking to end the inning.
"She throws the ball hard and she paints the corners," Williams said. "Her changeup was on, it was dropping off the table."
Ricketts is 7-0 in the postseason, allowing only one earned run in 45 innings while striking out 76.
"I feel like this was one of my best games," said Ricketts. "We were hitting well, we were playing defense great, and the pitching was all what you needed to do to win against a team like that. I had my adrenaline going this game, and I was hitting my spots."
Cal's hits came from Williams, a second-inning single, and Victoria Jones, a single in the seventh.
Oklahoma stranded 10 runners, including five in the first two innings. Jolene Henderson, Cal's starting pitcher, struck out six but issued four walks and allowed five hits. OU had the bases loaded twice but scratched out just one run each time.
"When Jolene got into those jams, she was able to get hitters to hit ground balls," Ninemire said. "She did the things she needed to do to give her defense a chance to make the plays and get us out of some jams."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.