NORMAN, Okla. - Looking for its first win in conference play, the No. 15 Oklahoma softball team (23-10-1, 0-2 Big 12) will host the Texas Tech Red Raiders (11-21, 0-2 Big 12) in a doubleheader on Tuesday at the OU Softball Complex. The first pitch will be thrown at 5 p.m., with the second game slated to begin at 7 p.m.
PROMOTIONS AND TICKETS
In addition to $.50 hot dog and coke night on Tuesday, the first 250 fans through the gates will also receive an OU trucker hat.
Seats to Tuesday’s games are available for $10 (reserved), $7 (adult general admission), $5 (youth general admission) and $3 (groups of ten or more -must be ordered 24 hrs in advance) at the OU Athletics Ticket Office (800-456-4668) and at SoonerSports.com. The gates will open an hour and a half before game time.
The second game of the twin bill against Texas Tech will be broadcast live on KOKC (1520 am) with Brian Brinkley calling the one-man show. In addition, a live webcast for both games will be available on the O-Zone (Soonersports.com’s premium site) and live stats for the Tech series can be viewed on Soonersports.com.
Following Tuesday night’s action, the Sooners will hit the road for a seven-game road stretch that begins with Nebraska. The Sooners and Huskers will square off this weekend (April 1-2) in Lincoln, Neb., for a two-game series. OU and NU will meet at 1 p.m. on Saturday followed by a 12 p.m. contest on Sunday.
Following Nebraska, Oklahoma will play game one of the Bedlam Series against Oklahoma State next Wednesday, April 5 at 7 p.m. in Stillwater, Okla.
SCOUTING TEXAS TECH
Similar to the Sooners, Texas Tech has started Big 12 play with an 0-2 record after being swept by Baylor this past weekend in Waco, Texas.
The Red Raiders, picked to finish eighth in the Big 12 race, have struggled offensively this season as they rank last in the Big 12 with a .234 batting average, including a .125 mark in Big 12 play. Conversely, the Sooners are leading the conference with a .324 overall clip on the year.
Despite Tech’s slow start offensively, right fielder Whitney Riley has been consistent for the Red Raiders as she owns a .321 clip on the year with a team-leading six doubles and three home runs. However, Riley had a rough start in Big 12 play after going only 1-for-6 at the plate in two games against Baylor.
Seniors Erin Crawford (2.54 ERA, 6-9) and Julie Hauck (2.86 ERA, 5-7) have been the go-to pitchers for Texas Tech, which owns a staff ERA of 3.17 on the year while holding opponents to a .267 batting average.
The Sooners dominate the all-time series against the Red Raiders, 24-3. Currently, OU owns an 11-game winning streak against Texas Tech, with the last loss coming in 1999 in the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City.
BIG 12 STARTS
Only one other OU squad besides the 2006 team has gone 0-2 in Big 12 Conference starts. The 2004 team was swept by Texas A&M in College Station, Texas, in the opening weekend of Big 12 play. The Sooners finished fifth in the conference race but was the long Big 12 school to make a WCWS appearance that year, its fifth straight.
After a rigorous non-conference season where Oklahoma played nine opponents ranked in the top-25 and a tough start to Big 12 play, the Sooners are looking for their first win in league play when they face Texas Tech Tuesday night.
Offensively, the Sooners are clicking on all cylinders as they lead the Big 12 in nine different offensive categories, including a conference-best .324 clip and 201 RBI through 34 games. The catalysts for the Sooner offense have been 2005 All-Americans Kristin Vesely (.514, 34 RBI) and Norrelle Dickson (.491, 14 stolen bases). Between the two of them, they rank in the top 5 of 10 different Big 12 offensive categories, including the top mark on six of those lists (conference rankings listed on pages 11-13).
The biggest challenge this season has been in the circle with the loss of four-time All-Big 12 performer Kami Keiter. As a unit, the staff owns a 3.20 ERA and after this weekend’s performance, an 8.50 ERA (highest among Big 12 schools) in Big 12 contests. This past weekend, sophomore Jadyn Smith had the best performance of the five-member staff as she allowed one earned run on four hits in 3.1 innings. Overall, freshman lefty D.J. Mathis leads the team with 18 appearances and a 7-3 record with a 2.48 ERA. Fellow freshman Morgan Hudsonpillar leads the staff with a 2.44 ERA and 37 strikeouts on the year.
In its opening weekend of Big 12 play, the Oklahoma softball team suffered a sweep to the Missouri Tigers at the OU Softball Complex. In Saturday’s action, the Sooners dropped an 8-6 contest to MU and fell again on Sunday, 9-6.
Despite recording double-digit hits in each game, the Sooners couldn’t get it done defensively. In both contests combined Oklahoma gave up 17 earned runs on 23 hits and used all five pitchers in game one against Missouri. Getting it done on the offensive end were Norrelle Dickson and Kristin Vesely, who each tallied an impressive .714 batting average for the weekend. Vesely added her third home run (already a single season career best) and Big 12-leading 10th double of the season in the final game against the Tigers.
PLAYER TO WATCH: KRISTIN VESELY
At the halfway point of the season, this senior center fielder has been outstanding for the Sooners as she leads the conference with a .514 average, including a .714 mark in Big 12 games. Vesely is riding a five-game hitting streak entering the Texas Tech series.
In overall games this season, Vesely leads the Big 12 in hits (1.62 per game), doubles (10), RBI (34), total bases (80) and on base percentage (.575). She also sits in the top 10 of 11 different OU career records.
The Sooners currently sit at No. 15 in the USA Today/NFCA poll that was released March 22. In the recent ESPN.com/USA Softball poll (March 21), the Sooners fell two spots to No. 17 in the weekly poll. The Sooners have been ranked in the top 25 of every NFCA poll since its inception, which spans 147 weeks long. OU and Arizona are the only programs to be ranked in the NFCA Top-25 every week of its existence.
With its win over North Texas, the Sooners improved to a perfect 3-0 in road contests this season. Their first road test of the year came against UNLV in the UNLV Alexis Resort Kickoff Classic in OU’s third game of the season (Feb. 11) and resulted in a 5-3 OU victory. In its second road contest, the Sooners shut out Tulsa, 8-0, in five innings.
Junior Norrelle Dickson is having another stellar season as the leadoff batter for the Sooners. In 2005, Dickson earned All-America honors after posting a .361 clip (70-189) while averaging 1.06 hits per game with 10 RBI total on the season.
The left fielder is even more impressive in 2006 as she owns a .491 clip (second in Big 12) while averaging 1.62 hits a game and has already surpassed last season’s RBI mark with 16 through 32 games in 2006. Below is a look at how Dickson stacks up against other top leadoff batters in the conference:
OU’s opponents might feel like they’re seeing double as the Sooners have successfully turned 16 double plays in 2006, a Big 12 best. Baylor owns the second-best margin in the Big 12 with 12 this season. In addition, Oklahoma leads all teams in the top-10 polls with 16 double plays.
The single season high for a Sooner squad is 22 set in 2004 after playing 68 games. With a 53-game regular season schedule, Oklahoma is on pace to break that mark in the regular season alone. Second baseman Savannah Long is the leading contributor with 12 double plays turned on the season.
Though 34 games this season, the Oklahoma freshmen class is making a strong impact on the Sooners this season. Currently, Traci Dickenson and Jessica Legendre are starting on the left side of the infield while Samantha Ricketts has started 31 games this season at either catcher or the designated player position. Pitchers Morgan Hudsonpillar and D.J. Mathis have seen plenty of time in the circle while utility player Jeannie Douglas has also seen time in the lineup.
The following are a few notes on the freshmen class:
-Ricketts is second on squad with 28 RBI and third on team with a .337 batting average
-Dickenson has homered four times on the season
-Hudsonpillar (2.44 ERA) and Mathis (2.48 ERA) lead the staff in ERA this season
-Shortstop Jessica Legendre has helped turn six of OU’s 16 double plays this year.
LUCKY NO. 3
In 2005, Norrelle Dickson (No. 1) and Kristin Vesely (No. 2) were one of the best 1-2 leadoff duos in the country as both earned All-America honors for their efforts. This year, Vesely has made the switch to the No. 3 spot in the lineup and the Sooners have benefited from her success there. Vesely has already surpassed her 2005 RBI total (30) and leads the conference in RBI (34) at the midway point in the season.
COACHES PICK OKLAHOMA FOURTH IN BIG 12
The University of Oklahoma softball team was picked to finish fourth by the Big 12 coaches in the annual preseason poll. The Sooners received 55 total votes while Texas A&M was tabbed the league favorite with 76 total points. The conference poll was based on a vote by each of the 10 conference head coaches who were not allowed to cast a vote for their own team in the process.
Notable streaks entering the doubleheader against Texas Tech:
218 - Consecutive games started by Kristin Vesely.
147 - Consecutive weeks since the inception of the NFCA Poll that OU has been ranked in the top-25.
12 - Consecutive seasons under Gasso that the Sooners have won their home opener
12 - Consecutive seasons of 40 or more wins, 11 under Gasso.
12 - Consecutive trips to the NCAA postseason
6 - Consecutive Regional Championships
5 - Current hitting streak by Kristin Vesely
5 - Current hitting streak by Samantha Ricketts
5 - Current hitting streak by Savannah Long
4 - Current hitting streak by Norrelle Dickson
3 - Consecutive seasons Gasso has started a freshman at shortstop
VESELY DRAFTED IN NPF AND PFX TOUR
Senior Oklahoma softball player Kristin Vesely has been a hot commodity for professional softball organizations lately. Vesely was the fourth overall pick and the New England Riptide’s first overall selection in the National Pro Fast pitch draft held Feb. 15.
It marked the second professional organization to draft her as she was selected as the 14th pick overall in the PFX Tour inaugural draft. The tour is a professional fast-pitch softball tour founded to help promote the sport worldwide.
SOONERS HEADLINING BIG 12 OFFENSE
OU’s Norrelle Dickson and Kristin Vesely are highlighting the Big 12’s offense so far this season. Vesely leads the Big 12 with a .514 clip while Dickson follows in second with a .491 overall season batting average. Dickson and Vesely lead the league with 55 hits each on the season, a 1.62 per game average.
Additionally, Dickson and Vesely are the top two in the conference in runs scored. Dickson leads with 42 scored on the year while Vesely is second with 33 on the season.
A third note is that Vesely and Dickson are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in on base percentage for the conference. Vesely leads the Big 12 with a .575 mark while Dickson is second with a .561 clip.
Another stat is that Vesely ranks first in the conference with 34 RBI while freshman Samantha Ricketts holds the fifth spot with 28 RBI on the year.
The Sooners lead the Big 12 in doubles thanks to Vesely and sophomore Savannah Long. Vesely shares the conference lead with 10 two-baggers on the year while Long is right behind Vesely with eight doubles hit on the season.
BIG 12 BEST - PART TWO
Along with individual leaders, the Sooners are also leading the conference in overall team batting with a .324 clip. The Sooners are also tops in on base percentage (.405), slugging percentage (.503), runs (220), hits (301), home runs (31) doubles (55), RBI (201) and base on balls (106).
TWO OUT RALLY
Oklahoma is using a two-out rally to score most of its runs this season as the Sooners are batting .306 (92-of-301) and have driven in 42 percent (84-of-201) of their RBI with two outs. No player has shown this skill more than Kristin Vesely who has pounded 120 of her team-leading 34 RBI with two outs.
The Sooners have taken advantage of runners in scoring position as Oklahoma is hitting at a .570 clip with a runner at third and less than two outs. In addition, threesome of Kristin Vesely (.556), Samantha Ricketts (.700) and Norrelle Dickson (.778) have been extremely successful with a runner on third and less than two outs.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ’D
In Big 12 contests only, the Sooners lead the conference in fielding percentage with a .984 fielding percentage (one error in 42 put outs). In overall games this season, OU is second in the conference with 26 errors and a .973 fielding percentage despite starting three freshman in the infield. Nebraska leads the Sooners in overall games with 18 errors but total only 503 put outs to OU’s 662.
EXTRA BASE HITS
OU has posted an extra-base hit in 31 of 34 games this season, including 25 games with two or more extra-base hits. The Sooners’ season high for extra-base hits this season is seven (4 HR, 3 2B) set against Indiana on Feb. 17 and Utah Valley State on March 11 (4 2B, 3 HR). Kristin Vesely leads the Sooners with 16 extra base hits on the year (10 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR) while Amber Spaulding follows with 13 on the season (5 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR).
TWO SOONERS ON POY WATCH LIST
Oklahoma softball players Kristin Vesely and Norrelle Dickson have been named to the initial watch list for the 5th annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award, announced the Amateur Softball Association, the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States. It marks the second straight season that Dickson, a junior, has been named to the preseason watch list. Vesely was a semifinalist for the award last season, but was not on the initial 2005 preseason list.
BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS
Senior right fielder Amber Spaulding was named the Big 12’s Player of the Week on March 14 for games played March 6-12. It marks Spaulding’s first league weekly accolade. Spaulding led the Sooners to a perfect 5-0 record this past week. She hit .529 (9-for-17) with 13 RBI, including a home run in four consecutive games. The Fontana, Calif. native also recorded a 1.353 slugging percentage and a .600 on-base percentage.
Senior center fielder Kristin Vesely was named the Big 12’s Co-Player of the Week for games played Feb. 13-19. Vesely split the honor with Texas’ Tina Boutelle. Vesely put together a 12-for-16 outing at the plate in all six games with a .750 batting average, including nine RBI and 10 runs scored.
SWITCHING IT UP
Oklahoma returns only four starters from last year’s Regional 14 Champion squad, but not all of the returnees will appear in the same position this spring. Sophomore Savannah Long was a consistent starter at shortstop in 2005, but has made the switch to the right side of the infield this season where she has seen time at second base.
Junior All-American (third team) Norrelle Dickson will use her speed in left field this season after spending her first two seasons at shortstop and third base for the Sooners. Junior Jamie Fox was a consistent starter in right field last season and has seen time in the same position, in addition to a few appearances in left field as well as the designated player. Providing stability in center field will be 2005 second team All-American Kristin Vesely, a four-year starter in the outfield.
WORTH NOTING ...
Kristin Vesely currently ranks in the top 10 on 11 different OU career charts ... Vesely currently owns the OU career best batting average ... With her double against Missouri, Vesely moved into fourth on the career doubles list ... Vesely only needs one more triple to move into No. 6 on the career triples list ... Entering the Tech series, Vesely, Ricketts and Long each own five-game hitting streaks while Dickson owns a four-game streak ... OU’s nine triples this season equals its final season total in 2005 ... Oklahoma leads the Big 12 in seven different offensive categories ... Through only 34 games, the Sooners are seven double plays shy of breaking the single season record (22) ... Freshman Jessica Legendre set a career high with two hits against North Texas (3/22) ... By starting against Washington (2/10), freshman Jessica Legendre became the third consecutive freshman to start the season at shortstop for head coach Patty Gasso ... In 2005, Savannah Long started before moving to second base ... In 2004, Norrelle Dickson started before moving to third base and to left field in 2006 ... Junior Amber Spaulding hit four home runs in four consecutive games (3/11-12) ... Junior Norrelle Dickson owns the team’s longest hitting streak (eight games) ... During that streak (3/5-3/15), Dickson batted .724 (21-of-29) with five extra-base hits (2 2B, 3 3B).
SOONERS ANNOUNCE RADIO AND TV SCHEDULE
The Oklahoma softball team has finalized its radio and TV schedule for the 2006 season. The Sooners will appear on ESPN five different times as well as a local Cox broadcast for the Bedlam game in Norman.
Oklahoma’s radio broadcast schedule has also been finalized, which will feature 10 OU softball games that can be heard on the official flagship station for OU softball, KOKC 1520 AM and KRXO 107.7 FM. Two additional broadcasts will be available via the internet only. For the fourth consecutive season, Brian Brinkley will handle radio play-by-play duties for the Sooners.