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Oklahoma takes Game 1 of WCWS

Oklahoma's Keilani Ricketts reacts after scoring against Alabama in the sixth inning of the NCAA Women's College World Series. (Associated Press)
Oklahoma's Keilani Ricketts reacts after scoring against Alabama in the sixth inning of the NCAA Women's College World Series. (Associated Press)

NCAA Softball: Keilani Ricketts struck out 12 in a five-hitter and Oklahoma beat Alabama 4-1 on Monday night in Game 1 of the Women’s College World Series final at Oklahoma City.

Jessica Shults drove in two runs, tying the game at 1 with a sacrifice fly in the fifth. The Sooners (54-8) went ahead to stay later in the inning on Brianna Turang’s run-scoring grounder.

Shults tacked on an RBI single in the sixth before Katie Norris’ squeeze brought in Ricketts.

Game 2 of the best-of-three series is tonight.

The fourth-seeded Sooners had 11 hits, the second-most allowed by Jackie Traina (40-3) this season, to win their 12th straight game and snap the Crimson Tide’s 11-game win streak.

Traina scored Alabama’s only run on Kendall Dawson’s sacrifice fly.

Shults was a shell of herself at last year’s World Series after she was diagnosed with panulcerative colitis late in the season. She had hit 19 home runs but lost more than 20 pounds and was feeling especially fatigued. The Sooners ended up dropping their first two games in Oklahoma City and were eliminated.

Shults came back healthy this season and provided the go-ahead two-run double in Oklahoma’s 5-3 victory against defending champion Arizona State on Sunday to get back to the championship round for the first time since winning the school’s only NCAA title in 2000.

NFL moving toward replacing officials

NFL: The NFL will start hiring and training possible replacement officials with a deal not yet completed with the NFL Referees Association.

Talks between the league and the officials broke down after two mediation sessions that followed nine bargaining negotiations since October. Both sides have said they expect a new collective bargaining agreement in time for the upcoming season.

But that optimism has disappeared.

A session was held Sunday under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and the NFLRA said the league “terminated negotiations” on Monday.

The NFL said new demands made by the officials led to the end of talks.

Ruling says Goodell may discipline players: An arbitrator has ruled that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has the authority to discipline New Orleans Saints players for their role in a bounty system.

The NFL Players Association challenged Goodell’s power to impose penalties for what the league says was a three-year bounty program that targeted specific players. Stephen Burbank, a University of Pennsylvania law professor, says Goodell has the power to punish the players under the collective bargaining agreement reached last August.

Jacksonville’s Blackmon pleads not guilty on DUI charge: Jaguars first-round draft pick Justin Blackmon appeared in an Oklahoma courtroom for the first time since his weekend arrest for suspicion of drunken driving in Stillwater, Okla.

The former Oklahoma State star wide receiver’s attorney entered a not guilty plea for him.

The Jaguars selected Blackmon fifth overall in April’s draft.

NASCAR suspends Busch for comments

Miscellany: NASCAR has suspended Kurt Busch for one week for verbally abusing a media member after Sundays Nationwide Series race at Dover, Del..

Busch was fined $50,000 by NASCAR last month and placed on probation through July 25 for reckless driving on pit road at Darlington and a post-race altercation with Ryan Newman’s crew members.

That probation has now been extended through the end of the year.

Busch was asked by a reporter from The Sporting News on Saturday if being on probation changed the way he raced. Busch’s responded by saying being on probation stopped him from beating up the reporter for asking stupid questions.

Busch will not be allowed to enter a NASCAR-sanctioned race until June 13.

Olympic torch relay diverted by protests in Northern Ireland: Irish Republican Army supporters clashed with police in the Northern Ireland city of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and forced Olympic torch organizers to divert the route of their relay through the city.

About 200 protesters shouting anti-police slogans jostled with officers and forced their way on to the torch route near Londonderry’s city council building. The protesters were criticizing recent police house raids and arrests aimed at suppressing the activities of Londonderry’s small but violent IRA factions in advance of the Olympic torch’s arrival.

Police diverted the torchbearer, 58-year-old Isobel Coote, down a side street.