When you put the ball in play, anything can happen. Great pitchers lose plenty of games, even when they're throwing well. A bloop falls between outfielders. A swinging bunt gets past the pitcher. A fielding error swings an inning.
It takes an extraordinary effort to remove that element of chance from a game. Keilani Ricketts did just that. Cal put just eight balls in play all game long. Three of those eight balls resulted in a baserunner, which is a pretty good ratio. Maybe if Cal had put a few more balls in play something might've happened to turn the game in Cal's favor. But Keilani Ricketts struck out 16 Bears in a breathtaking (ly painful) performance.
All but one player that stepped to the plate for Cal struck out at least once. Ricketts came within two strikeouts of tying a College World Series Record . . . against the consensus #1 team in the country. I'm hardly the right person to ask for a historical perspective on softball but I would have to assume that this would rank very near the top in terms of 'greatest single game pitching efforts in CWS history.'
So whatever Oklahoma did at the plate against Jolene Henderson seems like a side note. Jolene wasn't her sharpest, but she pitched reasonably well against a loaded lineup. If Cal's defense had been tighter it might have been enough on a different night. As it is, Lauren Chamberlain's RBI double provided the only run Ricketts would end up needing.
So Cal heads to the loser's bracket, which means more games and less rest. That's not very good news for a team that has been a one pitcher team for the last few weeks. Cal will have to regroup and beat either Oregon or Tennessee in a game that will air at ~6:30 PT tomorrow night. We'll have more info on either team tomorrow, but you can take heart knowing that Cal has already beaten both teams this year.
The Bears made it hard on themselves in the regionals and survived. They have the talent to do it again. Go Bears!