Sooners, Longhorns to face off, both unbeaten in conference play
Astrud Reed, The Oklahoma Daily
The No. 1 OU softball team has established itself as one of the nation’s elites, but the top spot in the Big 12 will be on the line this weekend at Red and Charline McCombs Field in Austin.
The Sooners (37-2, 6-0 Big 12) and No. 7 Texas (38-4, 8-0 Big 12) enter the series, which will begins at 4:30 p.m. Friday, unbeaten in conference play. Both are ranked in the top 10 in the polls, and the two squads occupy two of the first three spots in the RPI ratings.
Any meeting between the two rival schools always promises to be competitive, and the importance of this series could not be greater. With so much on the line, coach Patty Gasso always stresses that her team is too mature to get caught up in the emotions of the game.
The three game set will be the only time the teams match up in the regular season. OU will have to win on the road to gain a foothold atop the conference standings. But this hasn’t been a problem for Oklahoma all season.
The Sooners are perfect away from Marita Hynes Field. They have played impressive opponents on the road, but heading into Austin will be the biggest test of all.
The Sooners and Longhorns are either first or second in almost every conference statistical category. And above all, both have dominant pitching.
Runs could be hard to come by this weekend in Austin. Three senior pitchers will take to the circle to showcase why they’re among the nation’s best – Texas’ Blaire Luna, and OU’s duo of Keilani Ricketts, and Michelle Gascoigne.
Luna leads the conference in wins and strikeouts, Ricketts has the most shutouts, and Gascoigne owns the best ERA.
Combined, the trio of starters has a 56-3 record on the season. This number will surely change over the weekend as the aces go head-to-head.
The lineups on either side will look to make the pitchers work for every strike. Texas is hitting .342 as a team and Oklahoma has a team average of .332. The difference is power.
OU has blasted 30 more home runs than the Longhorns, led by sophomore first baseman Lauren Chamberlain. The second year player has 21 round-trippers this season.
A packed house is expected at Red and Charline McCombs Field to watch the rivalry series, with only a limited amount of tickets left.
Following the 4:30 p.m. game on Friday, the teams will face off at 5 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday to close the set.