NORMAN, Okla. - Winning seven of its last eight games and currently on a six-game winning streak, the No. 22 Oklahoma softball team will finish out the regular season this Wednesday night against North Texas at 7 p.m. at the OU Softball Complex. It will feature Senior Night as Nicole Denes and Kristin Vesely will be playing their final home game in a Sooner uniform.
The first 250 fans through the gates on Wednesday night will receive an OU floppy hat. Additionally, the senior ceremony honoring Denes and Vesely will start at approximately 6:45 p.m.
Wednesday night’s game will be aired on KOKC (1520 AM) with Brian Brinkley (color) and Sooner alum Kami Keiter (color) calling the game.
Fans can also access a live webcast of the game through the O-Zone on SoonerSports.com. As usual live stats will be provided at no cost.
After the regular season finale, the Sooners will have a week off before beginning play in the Big 12 Championship. Currently, the Sooners are a No. 5 seed, but need Nebraska to sweep Missouri this upcoming weekend to clinch that seed. If Missouri wins one game in the series against Nebraska, the Sooners will be a No. 6 seed.
Regardless of its seeding, the Sooners will play on Thursday at 11 a.m. As a fifth seed, OU would face the No. 4 seed in the tournament (Texas A&M) or as a sixth seed, the Sooners would match up against the No. 3 seed in the tournament (Nebraska or Baylor).
All Big 12 Championship action will take place at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
SCOUTING NORTH TEXAS
Oklahoma is facing North Texas (20-32) for the fourth time this season as it has outscored the Mean Green 27-6 in the last three meetings, including 10-1 and 10-5 victories in Norman this season. As a team, UNT is hitting at a .243 clip while its staff posts an ERA of 4.46 and is allowing opponents to hit at a .305 clip.
Third baseman Susan Waters has been an offensive force for UNT this year as she leads the team with a .329 average, including 17 home runs and 50 RBI. Additionally, Waters has been successful against the Sooners this season, accumulating a .300 clip against the Sooners with a .900 slugging percentage and two home runs.
In the circle the Mean Green have struggled with the Oklahoma bats as the entire staff owns a 9.61 ERA against the Sooners. UNT’s ace, Kristina Fowler, has recorded a 9.13 ERA in her two appearances against OU and is allowing the Sooners to bat .405 against her. However, Fowler has only given up one extra base hit against OU while Jessica Smith (9.48 ERA vs. OU) has given up four home runs in 10 innings pitched against OU.
North Texas will be looking for its first win all-time against the Sooners as Oklahoma has dominated the series history, 10-0. The Sooners have taken three wins from the Mean Green this year, a 10-5 win and 10-1 win in Norman at the OU Worth Tournament, and a 7-0 shut out in Denton, Texas.
LAST TIME THEY MET
The last meeting between the two schools came on March 22 in Denton, Texas, as senior Nicole Denes pitched the three-hit shut out in temperatures that dipped into the low 40s. Offensively, eight Sooners in the lineup recorded a hit as Vesely led the way with a 2-for-4 performance and two RBI. Additionally, freshman Samantha Ricketts also went 2-for-4 and added her sixth double of the season. Jessica Legendre had the best outing of her career with two hits against UNT.
Seniors Nicole Denes and Kristin Vesely will play their final game at the OU Softball Complex Wednesday night. Below are recaps of their career accomplishments.
This senior has been the veteran leader on OU’s pitching staff this season and has been a member of two teams that reached the Women’s College World Series and three NCAA Regional Championship teams. No player has shown more perseverance than this right-hander who battled back from heart surgery that ended her sophomore campaign and now ranks second in the OU record books with an all-time winning percentage of .750. The senior exemplifies the term “student-athlete” as she has been a seven-time Commissioner’s Honor Roll recipient and a two-time Academic All-Big 12 performer. She will graduate from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Chemistry.
There is no arguing that this senior, a finalist for USA Softball Player of the Year for the second straight season, has made her mark as one of the best hitters in OU history. The talented center fielder has been a staple in Oklahoma’s outfield during her four-year career where she picked up second team All-America honors in 2005 and has garnered three All-Big 12 honors while starting 236 consecutive games. The Phoenix, Ariz., native currently appears on the OU career record lists 11 different times and set an OU record with her 23-game hitting streak in 2005. With two professional softball offers on the table and opportunities with Team USA awaiting, Sooner fans have surely not heard the last from this feisty player.
OU 5, Arkansas 4
Freshman Samantha Ricketts led the Sooners to a 5-4 victory over Arkansas with her solo home run in the top of the seventh Monday afternoon in OU’s first game of the doubleheader in Fayetteville, Ark. The Sooners also used a three-run, five-hit fifth inning to rally back from a 2-0 deficit.
The Oklahoma offense had to come from behind, but once it started clicking, it tallied 12 hits against the Razorbacks’ two pitchers. Junior Norrelle Dickson, Ricketts, Savannah Long and Stacia Aleman recorded two hits each in the contest while Kristin Vesely, Mariee Mean, Ricketts, Long and Aleman each added an RBI.
OU 5, Arkansas 0
Led by Savannah Long’s two home runs, the No. 23 Oklahoma softball team extended its winning streak to six games with a 5-0 shut out over Arkansas in game two of the doubleheader Monday night in Fayetteville, Ark.
Freshman starter D.J. Mathis improved to 12-6 on the season after holding the Razorbacks scoreless through five innings and only allowing three hits while striking out four. The lefty hasn’t given up an earned run in her last four appearances in the circle.
OU 2, Kansas 0
The Oklahoma softball team shut out Kansas, 2-0, in game one of the doubleheader Sunday afternoon at the OU Softball Complex.
Freshman D.J. Mathis pitched her third shutout of the year while the Sooner offense was led by Kristin Vesely and Jamie Fox, who each added an RBI in the contest.
OU 4, Kansas 1
The No. 23 Oklahoma softball team capped off the Big 12 regular season with a sweep of Kansas after recording a 4-1 victory in game two of the doubleheader. The Sooners clinched sixth place in the conference and could possibly move into fifth following next weekend.
Senior Nicole Denes earned the win and pushed her record to 9-5 on the season after holding the Jayhawks to only three hits and one run while fanning six batters. Denes owned a no-hitter through five innings until giving up a single to the leadoff batter in the top of the sixth.
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 (43).
Vesely is ranked in the top-five of every Big 12 offensive category except for home runs, including second in batting average (.439), hits per game (1.36) and on base percentage (.510).
Additionally, she ranks among the top offensive hitters in the nation with a .439 clip, which ranks 14th in the country.
The center fielder is also stellar on defense with a 64-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.
The Sooners moved to No. 22 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll (May 2). The Sooners are still ranked No. 23 in the USA Today/NFCA poll, but a new one will be released May 3. 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.
Notable streaks entering the game against Oklahoma State:
236 - 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.
64 - 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 .454 average on the year while Vesely follows with a .439 clip (second in the Big 12).
Dickson leads the league with 79 hits on the season, a 1.49 per game average, while Vesely is right behind her with a 1.40 per game average.
Additionally, Dickson and Vesely are among the top three in the conference in runs scored. Dickson leads with 55 scored on the year while Vesely is third with 45 on the season.
Dickson (.522) and Vesely (.510) are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in on base percentage for the conference.
Vesely ranks fifth in the conference with 43 RBI while freshman Samantha Ricketts follows with 42 RBI.
Vesely is second in the league lead with 15 doubles hit on the year while Savannah Long has pounded 12 this season.
BIG 12 BEST - PART TWO
Along with individual leaders, the Sooners are also leading the conference in overall team batting with a .313 clip. The Sooners are also tops in on base percentage (.388), runs (302), hits (451), doubles (79) and RBI (276).
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.
BIG 12 HISTORY
OU has an all-time record of 148-49 (.751) in Big 12 games .... Oklahoma’s 148 wins and .751 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).
With the season winding down, senior Kristin Vesely is close to breaking the all-time record for career hits at OU. The center fielder is 10 hits away from breaking the record set by Lisa Carey (1998-01). Vesely owns 280 hits through her career and the record is 289.
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 15-18 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 28-4 when getting on the board first and are 17-6 when scoring in the first inning.
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.
Despite a young infield, the Oklahoma defense has been key for the Sooners this season as it has only given up 45 errors on the season and owns a .970 fielding percentage, which ranks 24th in the country.
OU’s opponents might feel like they’re seeing double as the Sooners have successfully turned 21 double plays in 2006, a Big 12 best.
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 one regular season game remaining, the Sooners only need two double plays to break the mark, Second baseman Savannah Long is the leading contributor with 16 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 owns 43 RBI on the season.
TWO OUT RALLY
Oklahoma is using a two-out rally to score most of its runs this season as the Sooners are batting .297 (141-475) and have driven in 40 percent (111-276) of their RBI with two outs. No player has shown this skill more than Kristin Vesely who has pounded 22 of her 43 RBI with two outs.
The Sooners have taken advantage of runners in scoring position as Oklahoma is hitting at a .342 clip with runners in scoring position. In addition, the threesome of Kristin Vesely (.485), Samantha Ricketts (.385) and Norrelle Dickson (.537) have been extremely successful with a runner in scoring position.
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 .454 clip while averaging 1.49 hits per game (first in the Big 12) and has already surpassed last season’s RBI mark with 20 through 53 games in 2006. Below is a look at how Dickson stacks up against other top leadoff batters in the conference: