OU to take on Mean Green in final non-conference game of regular season
Astrud Reed, The Oklahoma Daily
Tonight will be the last time the No. 1 Oklahoma softball team faces a non-conference opponent until the postseason as it hosts North Texas at 6:30 at Marita Hynes Field.
The Sooners (34-2, 3-0 Big 12) are coming off a weekend sweep of No. 17 Baylor, and tonight’s contest will be a tuneup for another Big 12 series beginning Friday at Texas Tech.
Coach Patty Gasso talked about the importance of having one more competitive game before the next conference series.
“[The players are] pretty mature in the way of knowing that we need to get better,” Gasso said. “Anytime you play someone in another uniform, it has a different meaning.”
The Mean Green (18-17) has the role of being the team Oklahoma will face as another lead-in to a conference series, the same role No. 18 Tulsa played last week. OU defeated Tulsa, 3-1.
Coming into Norman against the top-ranked team in the nation will be a trying task for North Texas, but the squad is no stranger to facing the Big 12’s best.
North Texas has faced No. 8 Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma State so far this season, going 2-5 against those teams. So the Sooners are not taking North Texas lightly.
“We know that anyone can beat anyone on any given day,” sophomore first baseman Lauren Chamberlain said. “We know if we take a play off and we aren’t on our game that our schedule is tough, and anyone can jump on an opportunity when they see it.”
Maintaining the same level of focus and intensity the Sooners displayed against No. 17 Baylor this past weekend will not be as easy against North Texas, who sits at 92nd in the RPI ratings. But the Sooners know they need to maintain their sharpness against the Mean Green tonight.
“We’re expecting their pitchers to bring it, and we’re expecting their team to bring it,” senior outfielder Brianna Turang said. “I know they’ve been doing really well lately, so we’re just going to have to come out and fight.”
Gasso is looking for hard-fought at-bats above anything, she said. Working the count and staying patient is something the Sooners have been able to do all season.
Reflecting on the non-conference schedule that concludes tonight, the Sooners went 31-2 with victories against 11 ranked teams, an NCAA high. Thirteen of the team’s non-conference wins resulted in run-rule victories.
This résumé moved Oklahoma to the top of both major polls and the RPI ratings.
Another win tonight would put the cap on an outstanding non-conference schedule, but the Sooners aren’t content, not even close.
“What we’re bringing to the table right now isn’t the best we’ve got,” Chamberlain said. “We’re just looking for that next game.”