OU softball: No. 1 Sooners comes home for the first time this season
The No. 1 OU softball team finally brings its undefeated record to Norman, as the squad prepares for the home opener at 3:15 p.m. today at Marita Hynes Field.
The Sooners (15-0) face Houston in the opener, then play a double-header Saturday against No. 25 Nebraska beginning at 1:30 p.m. before playing Houston again on Sunday at noon.
After three straight West Coast weekends, the team now has the opportunity to showcase its talents in front of the home fans. The Sooner faithful should expect to see some fireworks this weekend, coach Patty Gasso said.
“[The fans will see] a complete package,” Gasso said. “You’ll get very outstanding pitching, and you’ll see power hitting.”
Oklahoma’s one-two pitching combo of seniors Keilani Ricketts and Michelle Gascoigne have contributed to a 0.85 team ERA and a Big 12-leading 162 strike outs.
The duo has swept the Big 12 Pitcher of the Week awards — two for Ricketts and one for Gascoigne.
“If one of us is having a bad day, we know the other one is right there to back us up,” Gascoigne said. “It’s a lot of fun working together to get those shut outs.”
On rare occasions when run support is necessary, sophomore infielder Lauren Chamberlain has led the OU lineup.
Chamberlain is hitting a staggering .488 with a conference-high eight home runs.
The Sooners’ leadoff hitter is backing up the Big 12 Freshman of the Year award she earned last season.
Oklahoma carries a flawless record into Friday’s matchup, and the team wishes to extend the unbeaten streak. The only difference is that it is back in friendly territory.
“I’m excited to finally play in front of our home crowd,” senior catcher Jessica Shults said.
“It’s a relief to be at home,” Gasso said. “We put in three hard weeks, and we did our job the best we could.”
The Sooners will have to prove they can maintain the same level of focus that led them to a 15-0 start. In a sport where any team can beat another on any given day, this will be key.
Potential victories in Saturday’s back-to-back contests versus No. 25 Nebraska will not come easy. OU narrowly defeated the Huskers 2-0 last weekend in Palm Springs, Calif.
However, Gasso said her team is not prepared to lose. This can be credited to the squad’s competitive nature.
“They’re so prideful in what they do on the field and to come out victorious,” Gasso said. “Whether we’re playing softball or playing cards, that’s the mentality to have.”