Long weekend ahead for Sooner Softball at Kajikawa Classic
The wait is over for Oklahoma softball. After months of preparation, the nation’s second-ranked team will be back in action against No. 21 Stanford on Friday morning at the Kajikawa Classic in Phoenix.
The excitement is evident within the program, and following Thursday’s practice, the team was eager to get the season underway.
OU will play a sequence of five games in three days at the tournament.
Senior catcher Jessica Shults said her team is primed to begin the season.
“We’ve just been preparing and waiting to get back on the field and start the season,” Shults said. “We are prepared for what we’re going to face out there.”
The Sooners will not be able to ease into the schedule, as they will face Stanford on Friday and No. 6 Oregon on Saturday – two highly anticipated matchups. But difficult early season contests are commonplace for coach Patty Gasso’s teams.
“We’ve always had the philosophy of playing a tough schedule,” Gasso said. “This team loves that competition. They would much rather be in a close ball game than to run-rule a team.”
Sophomore infielder Lauren Chamberlain echoed the thoughts of her coach and teammates.
“We’re ready to be on the diamond with great teams,” she said.
After making it to last season’s title game, the Sooners recognize the importance of facing quality competition during the regular season.
“We’re trying to make a run for the national championship right now,” Chamberlain said. “Playing a stacked schedule is what we need to better prepare us for the end.”
Softball’s national spotlight is on this year’s Oklahoma team, which returns three All-Americans, including USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, senior pitcher Keilani Ricketts.
“We talk about staying in the moment, not looking ahead and not looking behind,” Gasso said. “That’s really where our focus has been.”
The Sooners continue play in the Kajikawa Classic on Saturday, when they play Oregon and New Mexico, followed by one game Sunday against Northwestern.