April 1, 1999

Up Next . . .

The eighth-ranked Oklahoma softball team is off this Easter weekend. There are only two Big 12 Conference games scheduled for the weekend. Texas and Texas A&M play Friday in College Station, Texas, and Missouri and Kansas battle Saturday in Columbia, Mo.

The Sooners will jump outside of conference play to face the Wichita State Shockers Tuesday, April 6, in Wichita, Kan. OU and WSU will play a doubleheader with game one starting at 5 p.m. and game two scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

The Sooners and the Shockers have already faced each other this season. OU swept a doubleheader from WSU, March 5, in the OU/Worth Invitational, 2-1 and 17-2.

The 17 runs were the most scored by a Sooner team since 1994 when OU defeated Washburn, 17-3.

On Deck . . .

OU will return to conference action Saturday, April 10 and Sunday, April 11. The Sooners travel to Lincoln, Neb., April 10, to play the Nebraska Cornhuskers in a doubleheader. Game one is at noon and game two is scheduled for 2 p.m. On April 11, OU will be in Ames, Iowa, to face Iowa State in a doubleheader. Those games are also set to start at noon and 2 p.m.

Last Time Out . . .

OU opened Big 12 Conference play over the weekend. The Sooners started out the conference race with a bang, winning all three games.

Saturday, OU and Missouri were scheduled to play a doubleheader, but managed to only get one game completed due to inclement weather. In a shortened game one, the Sooners defeated the Tigers, 1-0. The only run of the game was scored by OU in the bottom of the first. Sooner left-fielder Christy Ring led off the inning with a single. After LaKisha Washington popped up to the first baseman, shortstop Lisa Carey smashed a double to left centerfield scoring Ring all the way from first base.

OU's starting pitcher Lana Moran looked impressive inside the circle as she improved to 8-6 on the season. In 5.2 innings, she shut out the Tigers, allowing only two hits and no walks. She also posted two strikeouts.

Sunday, the Sooners swept a doubleheader from Kansas, 4-2 and 5-3. OU won the two-game series thanks largely to Lynette Velazquez.

In game one, the senior first baseman belted a grand slam over the right-field fence to give the Sooners a 4-0 lead after one inning. The four runs proved to be enough as OU held on for a 4-2 victory.

In game two, the Sooners were trailing 3-0 after four and a half innings. But OU scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth. In that half inning, the Sooners pulled within 3-2, but took the lead for good when Velazquez slammed an opposite field three-run shot, her second homer of the day.

Freshman Ace . . .

Freshman Jennifer Stewart has gone beyond the high expectations placed on her at the beginning of the season. She has solidified herself this season as the ace of the pitching staff.

Stewart is 13-2 on the season with a 1.56 ERA. In her college debut Feb. 9, the Yukon, Okla., product threw a no-hitter in OU's 7-0 victory.

In 110.1 innings pitched, Stewart has allowed 26 runs (23 earned) and has struck out 87 batters. Opponents are hitting only .187 off of the left-handed power pitcher.

Don't Do It! . . .

Opposing runners on base should be aware of who is behind the plate for the Sooners.

Sophomore Ashli Barrett has one of the strongest and most accurate arms in the nation. With her cannon-like arm, she has experienced tremendous success against opponent's running game.

This season, the sophomore has thrown out 18-of-29 would-be base stealers (.621). Last year, Barrett earned first-team All-Big 12 acclaim, and much of her recognition came from her performance defensively. She threw out 17-of-33 would-be base stealers, but Big 12 opponents attempted to steal only three times on Barrett in the 17 conference games (1-for-3).

The Oklahoma City, Okla. product is also a force at the plate this season. Barrett is hitting .311 with 20 RBIs and five home runs.

Swiping the Bases . . .

When the Sooners get on base, they are immediately looking to run. Coach Gasso has been aggressive with her players on the base paths and it has paid dividends this year.

This season, OU has stolen 44 bases in 56 attempts. LaKisha Washington leads the Sooners with 10 steals. Washington had 28 stolen bases last year to lead the team.

Tough Competition . . .

Of the nine losses by the Sooners, six of them have been to top 25 teams. Four of the losses have been to opponents ranked higher than OU. In addition, the Sooners have played nine of the top 25 teams this season.

Defensive Minded . . .

Once again, under the direction of Patty Gasso, OU is one of the better defensive teams in the nation. This season, the Sooners own a .979 fielding percentage and have committed just 22 errors in 698 chances. The .979 is on pace to better last year's percentage (.974), which was fourth-best in the nation last season.

Shortstop Lisa Carey has the most errors with six, but she continues to make spectacular plays, taking away hits from the opposition. In 249 chances at first base, Velazquez has committed only two errors. Catcher Ashli Barrett has only allowed one past ball and has committed only one error.

Big 12 Conference Standings

Conference Overall
School W L T Pct. W L T Pct.
Oklahoma 3 O 0 1.000 28 9 0 .757
Baylor 2 0 0 1.000 16 13 0 .552
Texas A&M 3 1 0 .750 31 8 0 .795
Texas 3 1 0 .750 24 12 0 .667
Missouri 2 1 0 .667 26 12 0 .684
Nebraska 2 2 0 .500 16 11 0 .593
Texas Tech 0 2 0 .000 23 20 0 .535
Kansas 0 2 0 .000 14 15 0 .483
Okla. State 0 2 0 .000 13 15 0 .464
Iowa State 0 4 0 .000 12 18 0 .400

USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll (as of 3/31)
1. UCLA (25) 33-0
2. Arizona 30-4
3. Fresno State (0-2) 33-7
4. Washington (0-1) 24-6
5. SW Louisiana (0-1) 31-5
6. Arizona State 30-8
7. Michigan 25-5-1
8. Oklahoma 28-9
9. Stanford 26-7
10. South Carolina 31-8
11. LSU (1-0) 25-5
12. Oregon State 27-10
13. Oregon (1-0) 27-10
14. California 27-8
15. Texas (0-1) 24-12
16. Illinois-Chicago (0-1) 42-13
17. Southern Mississippi 34-5
18. Texas A&M 31-8
19. South Florida 33-13
20. Iowa 23-9-1
21. New Mexico 29-8
22. Massachusetts (1-0) 15-7
23. Minnesota 22-7
24. DePaul 19-10
25. Missouri (1-0) 26-12

* - Teams OU has faced are Italicized and records against each are in ( ).