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Softball Hosts Jayhawks in Final Big 12 Series
April 29, 2006
NORMAN, Okla. -- Capping off its final weekend of Big 12 regular season play, the Sooners will host the Kansas Jayhawks this weekend at the OU Softball Complex.  Saturday's action will begin at 2 p.m. while Sunday's first pitch will be thrown at 12 p.m.
 
Following the conclusion of Big 12 play on Sunday, Oklahoma will head to Fayetteville, Ark., to take on the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks in a doubleheader on Monday, with the first game beginning at 4 p.m.
 
Oklahoma will round out the regular season at home next Wednesday night as it hosts North Texas on Senior Night at the OU Softball Complex.  Seniors Kristin Vesely and Nicole Denes will be playing their final home game in a Sooner uniform.  The final regular season contest begins at 7 p.m.
 

Live O-Zone | O-Zone?

MEDIA EXPOSURE
The OU-Kansas game on Saturday will be aired on KOKC (1520 AM) with Brian Brinkley (color) and Sooner alum Kami Keiter (color) calling the game. Both games of the Kansas series will be available for viewing on the O-Zone. Additionally, live stats of all of OU's games this week can be found on SoonerSports.com.
 
TICKETS AND PROMOTIONS
Seats to this weekend's games are still 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 first 250 fans through the gates on Saturday will receive an OU Sooner Bobblehead.  On Sunday, trading cards of every Sooner player will be handed out to the first 250 fans in attendance.
 
SOONER UPDATE

Heading into their final weekend of Big 12 play, the Sooners (6-10 Big 12) are sitting in sixth place in the league standings and only one game ahead of Iowa State (5-9 Big 12), Missouri (5-9) and Oklahoma State (5-11).  Additionally, Kansas is fifth in the conference race.  While Oklahoma only has two games remaining, Missouri, Iowa State and Kansas all have four games left in Big 12 action.
 
As they have done all season, the Sooners continue to lead the Big 12 in offense as they own top marks in six different categories.  Additionally, Oklahoma has the top two batters in the Big 12 in Norrelle Dickson (.447) and Kristin Vesely (.441). 
 
SCOUTING KANSAS
The Jayhawks (27-22, 6-8 Big 12) enter this weekend's series having won six of their last eight games, including a 1-0 upset over No. 2 Texas last weekend.  In its previous Big 12 game this week (4/26), the Jayhawks were shut out 1-0 by No. 17 Nebraska in Lincoln as the two schools split the series for the year.  This weekend's series will feature a battle with the league's top hitting team in conference play, Oklahoma with a .292 avg, against the leagues' top pitching team in Big 12 play, Kansas with a 0.87 ERA.
 
Kansas has been on a hot streak as of late due to the efforts of senior pitcher/designated player Serena Settlemier (.353 avg, 20 RBI), the current USA Softball National Player of the Week and the Big 12 Player of the Week.  In her 16 innings in the circle last week, Settlemier recorded a 0.44 ERA while holding opponents to a .115 average.  Additionally, she was a force at the plate in the last week where she owned a .615 average with three home runs (two grand slams) and 12 RBI in five games.
 
Adding offensive presence to the Kansas squad that is batting .204 in Big 12 play are Jessica Moppin (.313 avg, 15 RBI) and Destiny Frankenstein (.295 avg, 23 RBI).
 
Headlining the Kansas defense has been junior right hander Kassie Humphreys and Settlemier.  Humphreys, a two-time Big 12 Pitcher of the Week selection, posts a team-best 1.26 ERA with a 12-15 record.  Humphreys is holding opponents to a .151 average while averaging 1.2 strikeouts per game.  Settlemier (1.27 ERA, 15-5) has made 25 appearances in the circle this season and has thrown 10 complete games with three shut outs.
 
SERIES HISTORY
Kansas owns the slight edge in the series history with a 38-26 advantage.  However, Oklahoma has taken seven of the last nine contests from the Jayhawks.  Last season, Oklahoma was swept by Kansas in Lawrence, but rebounded with a 5-0 shut out over the Jayhawks in the Big 12 Championships (5/12) in Oklahoma City.
 
LAST TIME THEY MET
The Sooners earned their first win in the Big 12 Championships last season with a 5-0 victory over the Jayhawks.  OU wasted no time in the contest as it jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back.  Former Sooner Kami Keiter limited KU to three hits in the complete game while current Sooners Norrelle Dickson and Jamie Fox each tallied hits in the contest.  KU's Serena Settlemier came in for relief in the final four innings, allowing three hits and no runs.
 
PLAYER TO WATCH - STACIA ALEMAN
Head coach Patty Gasso started junior Stacia Aleman for the first time since March 8 and it paid off as the Sooners used a 9-3 win over in-state rival Oklahoma State to take the Bedlam Bell.
 
Aleman was a key component as she went 2-for-4 with two RBI.  Her two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth marked her third home run of the season. 
 
She was also perfect at second base, where she recorded two outs.
 
SCOUTING ARKANSAS
The Razorbacks (26-29, 10-16) will enjoy a weekend off before hosting Oklahoma in the Monday doubleheader.  Winning seven of their last 10, the Razorbacks have gained momentum in the final stretch of the season, after winning the series against No. 11 LSU this past Wednesday and taking a 2-0 victory over No. 18 Auburn last weekend.
 
Offensively, UA is batting only .216 on the year while opponents are hitting at a .243 clip.  Leading the Razorback offense is senior left fielder/pitcher Blaire Perry, who owns a .299 clip  with 11 RBI.  The power hitters for the Razorbacks include first baseman Shana Easley (.233, 20 RBI) who owns a team-best five home runs and shortstop Dayna Huckabee (.212, 4 HR) who has recorded a team-best 24 RBI on the year.
 
In the circle, sophomore right hander Katy Henry owns a staff-best 2.01 ERA with a 15-14 record.  Henry has thrown 202 strikeouts in 191.2 innings while holding opposing batters to a .228 average.  Perry (2.55 ERA, 6-8) has also seem time in the circle this season with a 112.2 innings thrown and 21 games started.
 
SERIES HISTORY
The Sooners are a perfect 8-0 in the series history against the Razorbacks, including a 4-0 mark at home, 2-0 record in Fayetteville and a 2-0 mark at neutral sites.
 
LAST TIME THEY MET
OU and UA met for a doubleheader last season in Norman (March 2) as the Sooners swept the Razorbacks.  OU used a 12-0 five inning run rule and an 8-0 six-inning run-rule contest to earn the sweep.  Current Sooners Norrelle Dickson (3-for-4), Kristin Vesely (5-for-7, 2 RBI) and Jamie Fox (2-for-3, 2 RBI) highlighted the OU offense in both games.
 
BEDLAM RECAP: OU 9, OSU 3
Oklahoma swept OSU in the regular season Bedlam Series for the third consecutive year and ninth time in the history of the Big 12 ... The Bedlam Bell, which is in its sixth year being sponsored by Bank of Oklahoma and your local Ford Dealers, has never left Norman, while the Sooners have done no worse than split with OSU since OU head coach Patty Gasso came to Norman 12 years ago ... Senior Nicole Denes picked up her first Bedlam win in her career after holding the Cowgirls to three runs on nine hits while fanning five batters ... Sophomore Savannah Long's three-run homer in the sixth was key to the Sooner victory ... Junior Stacia Aleman made her first start since March 8 and went 2-for-4, including a two-run homer ... Sophomore Susan Ogden is 4-for-6 with four RBI against OSU this season.
 
VESELY SELECTED AS FINALIST FOR USA SOFTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Senior center fielder Kristin Vesely has been named one of 25 candidates for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, announced the Amateur Softball Association, the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States.  It marks the second consecutive year that Vesely has made the list of 25.  Vesely was on the Preseason Watch List that was comprised of 40 players.  She was joined by fellow Sooner Norrelle Dickson.
 
PLAYER OF THE YEAR PROFILE - KRISTIN VESELY
Senior Kristin Vesely, an All-America candidate and USA Softball Player of the Year Finalist, is on the same torrid pace she was last season where she earned second team All-America honors.  She currently ranks in the top 10 of 11 different OU career lists and has already set career single season records in home runs (4) and RBI (39).
 
Vesely is ranked in the top-five of every Big 12 offensive category except for home runs, including second in batting average (.441), hits per game (1.37) and on base percentage (.514). 
 
Additionally, she ranks among the top offensive hitters in the nation with a .441 clip, which ranks 14th in the country.
 
The center fielder is also stellar on defense with a 60-game errorless streak dating back to May 1, 2005.  The speedy outfielder is the only Sooner starter to not commit an error this season.
 
VESELY AND DICKSON INVITED TO USA SOFTBALL CAMP
Current OU softball players Norrelle Dickson and Kristin Vesely have been invited to USA Softball's upcoming selection camps for the 2006 World University Games team.  Additionally, former Sooner All-American Lisa Carey has also been extended an invitation to the USA Softball Women's National Team Selection Camp.
 
The 27 participants invited to the World University Team Selection Camp come from 11 different colleges. Dickson and Vesely, both 2005 All-Americans, join Texas' Tina Boutelle and Desiree Williams as the only Big 12 representatives invited to the World University team selection camp.
 
The World University Games selection camp will be held June 9-11 at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., and will be followed by the Women's National Team camp June 13-17. The Women's National Team will represent the United States at three events this year including the II World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma City, Okla., the only National Team event held on American soil.
 
TOP-25
The Sooners fell to No. 23 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll (April 25) and the latest USA Today/NFCA poll (April 26). The Sooners have been ranked in the top 25 of every NFCA poll since its inception, which spans 152 weeks.  OU and Arizona are the only programs to be ranked in the NFCA Top-25 every week of its existence.
 
STREAKS
Notable streaks entering the game against Oklahoma State:
232 - Consecutive games started by Kristin Vesely.
152 - Consecutive weeks since the inception of the NFCA Poll that OU has been ranked in the top-25.
60 - Consecutive games Kristin Vesely has not committed an error, dating back to May 1, 2005
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
8 - Consecutive wins for OU in the Bedlam Series
6 - Consecutive Regional Championships
3 - Consecutive seasons Gasso has started a freshman at shortstop
 
DICKSON, VESELY HEADLINING BIG 12 OFFENSE
OU's Norrelle Dickson and Kristin Vesely are highlighting the Big 12's offense so far this season.  Dickson recently over took Vesely for the Big 12 lead in batting average.  Dickson own's a Big 12-best .447on the year while Vesely follows with a .441 clip (second in the Big 12).
 
Dickson leads the league with 72 hits on the season, a 1.47 per game average, while Vesely is right behind her with a 1.37 per game average.
 
Additionally, Dickson and Vesely are among the top three in the conference in runs scored.  Dickson leads with 52 scored on the year while Vesely is third with 42 on the season.
 
Dickson (.521) and Vesely (.514) are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in on base percentage for the conference. 
 
Freshman Samantha Ricketts ranks fifth in the conference with 40 RBI on the year while Vesely follows with 39.
 
Vesely is second in the league lead with 13 doubles hit on the year while Savannah Long has pounded 11 this season.
 
BIG 12 BEST - PART TWO
Along with individual leaders, the Sooners are also leading the conference in overall team batting with a .312 clip.  The Sooners are also tops in on base percentage (.390), runs (286), hits (415) and RBI (261).
 
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.  Spaulding led the Sooners to a perfect 5-0 record and .529 (9-for-17) with 13 RBI, including a home run in four consecutive games.
 
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. 
 
OU VS. NCAA FIELD
In addition to leading the Big 12 in offense, the Sooners are also among the top offensive teams, nationally.  To the right is a look at where Oklahoma stands as a team and individually among NCAA teams. 

NCAA Team Rankings  

Category

Stat

Rank

Scoring (runs per game)

5.77

9th

Batting Average

.311

T16th

Doubles Per Game

1.510

T16th

Slugging Percentage

.467

21st

 

NCAA Individual Rankings

Batting Average

Stat

Rank

Norrelle Dickson

.452

11th

Kristin Vesely

.447

14th

Runs Scored (per game)

 

 

Norrelle Dickson

1.05

7th


 
BIG 12 HISTORY
OU has an all-time record of 146-49 (.749) in Big 12 games  .... Oklahoma's 146 wins and .749 winning percentage in league play is a conference best ... In the league's 10-year history, OU has won a National Championship (2000), three regular season titles (1996, 1999, 2000) and two Big 12 tournament crowns (1996, 2001) ... No Big 12 school has been to the WCWS more than the Sooners (five times).
 
IT TAKES SEVEN TO WIN        
The lucky number for OU this year has been seven as the Sooners are 19-0-1 when scoring seven or more runs in a game.  Conversely, Oklahoma is 11-18 when not scoring seven plus runs.
 
SCORE FIRST = SUCCESS      
Scoring first has been a key in OU's victories this season as the Sooners are 25-4 when getting on the board first and are 17-6 when scoring in the first inning. 
 
COWGIRL CORRALLER
Sophomore catcher Susan Ogden has come up huge for the Sooners in both Bedlam games this year.  Ogden hit .667 (4-for-6) with four RBI, including a home run, in both Bedlam contests.  With seven total bases, she owned a 1.167 slugging percentage against the Cowgirls this season.
 
WALK THE WALK
Kristin Vesely has made her mark as one of the most feared hitters in the country and opposing teams are showing their respect.  In addition to be being among the top 20 in the country in batting average, the senior center fielder has set a career high with 24 walks on the season, which also marks a team-high.
 
NEW ADDITION TO THE OFFENSE
Freshman pitcher Morgan Hudsonpillar doesn't get too many appearances at the plate, but when she does, it has turned into much success for the Sooners.  In her four appearances in the lineup this season, Hudsonpillar has gone 3-for-4 with two RBI.  She came through at Iowa State in OU's 8-6 win over the Cyclones Sunday as she went 2-for-2 in the contest.
 
DEFENSIVE STOPPERS
Despite a young infield, the Oklahoma defense has been key for the Sooners this season as it has only given up 40    errors on the season and owns a .971 fielding percentage, which ranks 23rd in the country.  The season record for fewest errors in a season is 42, set by the 2001 squad.
 
SEEING DOUBLE
OU's opponents might feel like they're seeing double as the Sooners have successfully turned 20 double plays in 2006, a Big 12 best.  Oklahoma State owns the second-best margin in the Big 12 with 17 this season.
 
CLOSING IN ON DOUBLE PLAY HISTORY
The single season high for a Sooner squad is 22 double plays set in 2004 after playing 68 games.  With a 54-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 15 double plays turned on the season.
 
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 ranks eighth in the conference with 39 RBI on the season.
 
LINE UP CHANGES
Oklahoma returns only four starters from last year's Regional 14 Champion squad, but not all of the returnees have appeared in the same position this spring.  Additionally, no Sooner has started the entire season at one position as only three Sooners have started all 49 games this season.  Sophomore Savannah Long owns 48 starts at second base and one at short stop while Kristin Vesely has posted 46 starts in center field and three at catcher.  Norrelle Dickson rounds out the 49-game starters with 42 in left field and seven starts at short stop.
 
TWO OUT RALLY
Oklahoma is using a two-out rally to score most of its runs this season as the Sooners are batting .298 (131-440) and have driven in 41 percent (107-261) of their RBI with two outs.  No player has shown this skill more than Kristin Vesely who has pounded 21 of her 39 RBI with two outs.
 
CLUTCH PERFORMERS
The Sooners have taken advantage of runners in scoring position as Oklahoma is hitting at a .337 clip with runners in scoring position.  In addition, the threesome of Kristin Vesely (.475), Samantha Ricketts (.386) and Norrelle Dickson (.525) have been extremely successful with a runner in scoring position.
 
LEADOFF POWER
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 Big 12-best .447 clip while averaging 1.47 hits per game (first in the Big 12) and has already surpassed last season's RBI mark with 19 through 49 games in 2006.  Below is a look at how Dickson stacks up against other top leadoff batters in the conference:

Top Big 12 Leadoff Batters                    

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Player

Avg.

2B

3B

RBI

SB

Norrelle Dickson (Oklahoma)

.47

7

3

19

21

Lizzy Aumua (Nebraska)

.400

5

3

16

21

Desiree Williams (Texas)

.368

7

3