NORMAN, Okla. - The No. five seed and 21st ranked-Oklahoma softball team (35-18-1, 8-10 Big 12) will open Big 12 Championship action this Thursday at 11 a.m. against No. 4 seed Texas A&M (32-15, 11-6 Big 12). The Sooners and Aggies will play on the main field at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
A win for the Sooners would advance them to a 5 p.m. Thursday game with the winner between top-seeded Texas and its opponent (winner of the play-in game between No. 8 Oklahoma State and No. 9 Iowa State), who meet at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday. If OU loses its opener, it will play the loser of UT and the play-in-game winner at 2 p.m Thursday.
Oklahoma is seeking its third Big 12 Championship title and first since 2001. The Sooners won the inaugural Big 12 Championship in 1996 and claimed their second title in 2001 with four straight wins in the tournament.
OU owns an all-time Big 12 Championship record of 28-15 and is 8-2 in openers. The Sooners have only been a five seed in the Championship once. In 2004, the fifth-seeded Sooners went 2-2 in the tournament, eventually losing to Missouri in the semifinals, 3-2, in 13 innings. In every other Big 12 Championship, Oklahoma has either been a No. 1 or 2 seed and once a No. 4 seed (2003).
Additionally, Oklahoma has won three of four all-time tournament meetings with Texas A&M.
Last season, the Sooners were a No. 2 seed and dropped its opening game of the Championship to Nebraska, 1-0. However, OU bounced back with a 5-0 win over Kansas and a 6-2 victory over Texas A&M, but was eliminated 3-1 by Texas.
All of OU’s action on Thursday and Friday will be broadcast on Yahoo! Audio with Brian Brinkley on the one-man show. As always, free live stats are available through SoonerSports.com.
Tickets can be ordered by contacting the Oklahoma City All Sports Association at (405) 236-5000 or by downloading the ticket application on the Big 12 web site, www.big12sports.com. The following is a breakdown of the ticket prices:
All Session: $50
Games 1-10 Single Session:
$8 - Adult
$5 - Senior Citizens/Children 12 & under
Games 11-17 Single Session:
$10 - Adult
$7 - Senior Citizens/Children 12 & under
SCOUTING TEXAS A&M
The Sooners and Aggies will be facing each other for the fourth time this season after splitting the series in College Station a month ago. TAMU also handed the Sooners a 7-6 loss in the Judi Garman Classic (March 18).
In conference play, Oklahoma blanked Texas A&M, 4-0, in the opener, ending the Aggies’ two-year 20-game home winning streak. The offense tallied 13 hits while OU starter D.J. Mathis held Texas A&M to five. In the second contest, TAMU’s Amanda Scarborough held Oklahoma to only one hit as OU scored its only run on an error.
The Sooners made a strong rally in the Judi Garman Classic after being down 7-3, but eventually lost to the Aggies in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
As a team OU hit .292 against Texas A&M this season, while the Aggies have owned a .313 clip. OU was led offensively by senior Kristin Vesely who hit .545 with one home run and 10 total bases against TAMU this season. Two other Sooners hit .400 or better with Samantha Ricketts posting a .500 clip with one home run and nine total bases while Savannah Long posted a .400 batting average in the three games this season.
In the circle, Oklahoma has fared well against TAMU’s Megan Gibson who has pitched 12 innings while giving up 24 hits and 10 runs. Conversely, Scarborough has only given up one hit to the Sooners this season after pitching the complete game in College Station.
For Oklahoma, Mathis has appeared in all three games against the Aggies. In 9.2 innings pitched, she has worked seven innings of scoreless ball against Texas A&M. The freshman lefty owns a 2.90 ERA against the Aggies.
OU leads the all-time series with Texas A&M, 33-24. In the last six meetings, each squad has won three.
THE NO. 5 SEED
- OU has only been a No. 5 seed once in the history of the Big 12. The fifth-seeded Sooners went 2-2 in the Big 12 Championship in 2004, eventually losing to Missouri in the semifinals.
- The lowest seed to ever win the Big 12 Championship was third-seeded Texas in 2005. The Longhorns went 4-0 in the tournament and claimed the Championship with a 2-0 victory over No. 5 seed Missouri, 2-0.
- The No. 5 seed has appeared in the Big 12 Championship finals on three different occasions. In 2004, No. 5 Missouri was defeated by No. 3 Texas 2-0. The second-seeded Sooners handed fifth-seeded Oklahoma State a 6-0 loss in 2001 and No. 1 Missouri defeated No. 5 Oklahoma State, 3-1, in 1997.
2006 BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
May 10-13 * ASA Hall of Fame Stadium * Oklahoma City, Okla.
Wednesday, May 10
Game 1 - No. 8 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Iowa State at 5 p.m.
Game 2 - No. 7 Missouri vs. No. 10 Texas Tech - Field 4 at 5 p.m.
Game 3 - No. 1 Texas vs. Game 1 Winner - 7:30 p.m.
Game 4 - No. 2 Nebraska vs. Game 2 Winner - Field 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 11
Game 5 - No. 4 Texas A&M vs. No. 5 Oklahoma - 11:00 a.m.
Game 6 - No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 6 Kansas - Field 4 at 11:00 a.m.
Game 7 - Game 3 Loser vs. Game 5 Loser - 2:00 p.m.
Game 8 - Game 4 Loser vs. Game 6 Loser - Field 4 at 2:00 p.m.
Game 9 - Game 3 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner at 5:00 p.m.
Game 10 -Game 4 Winner vs. Game 6 Winner at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 12
Game 11 - Game 8 Winner vs. Game 9 Loser at 11:00 a.m.
Game 12 - Game 7 Winner vs. Game 10 Loser at 1:30 p.m.
Game 13 - Game 10 Winner vs. Game 11 Winner (FSN) at 4:30 p.m.
Game 14 - Game 9 Winner vs. Game 12 Winner at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 13
Game 15 - If necessary game - Field 4 at 11:00 a.m.
Game 16 - If necessary game at 11:00 a.m.
Game 17 - Championship Game (FSN) at 3:00 p.m.
(Game 13/Game 15 Winner vs. Game 14/Game 16 Winner)
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).
FINAL BIG 12 REGULAR SEASON STANDINGS
SOONERS HEADLINE BIG 12 OFFENSE IN REGULAR SEASON
OU’s Norrelle Dickson and Kristin Vesely highlighted the Big 12 offense in the regular season. Dickson recently over took Vesely for the Big 12 lead in batting average. Dickson own’s a Big 12-best .463 average on the year while Vesely follows with a .449 clip (second in the Big 12).
Dickson led he league with 82 hits on the season, a 1.52 per game average, while Vesely was right behind her with a 1.39 per game average.
Additionally, Dickson and Vesely were among the top three in the conference in runs scored. Dickson led with 56 scored on the year while Vesely was tied for second with 46 plated.
Dickson (.532) and Vesely (.518) were No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in on base percentage for the conference.
Vesely ranked third in the conference with 54 RBI while freshman Samantha Ricketts follows with 43 RBI (fifth in Big 12). Additionally, Vesely was also third in the league with 111 total bases.
With her 15 doubles on the season, Vesely ranked second among the Big 12 while Savannah long was sixth with 12 two-baggers.
BIG 12 BEST - PART TWO
Along with individual leaders, the Sooners also led the conference in overall team batting with a .316 clip. The Sooners were also tops in on base percentage (.390), runs (306), hits (463), doubles (79) and RBI (280).
BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS
OU leads all Big 12 schools with 47 Player/Pitcher of the Weeks awards since 1996, including three awards this season Below are the details:
Junior left fielder Norrelle Dickson capped off the Big 12 Player of the Week selections as she was the third Sooner named a POW in the conference’s final week of honoring a player (May 8). Dickson batted an impressive .818 and led OU to three straight non-conference victories in its final week of regular season play.
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.
PLAYER TO WATCH: NORRELLE DICKSON
The current Big 12 Player of the Week ended the regular season on fire as she hit .818 in OU’s final three games. Additionally, the leadoff batter owns a team-best .532 on base percentage and leads the Big 12 with a .463 batting average.
Against Big 12 opponents, the left fielder is hitting .373. In addition to leading the Big 12 in batting average, Dickson is also tops in hits (82), runs scored (56) and on base percentage (.532).
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 (5) and RBI (45).
Vesely is ranked in the top six of every Big 12 offensive category except for home runs, including second in batting average (.449), hits per game (1.39), doubles (15) and on base percentage (.518).
Additionally, she ranks among the top offensive hitters in the nation with a .449 clip, which ranks ninth in the country.
The center fielder is also stellar on defense with a 65-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 up to No. 20 in the latest ESPN.com/USA Softball poll (May 9). The Sooners are still ranked No. 22 in the USA Today/NFCA poll, with an updated version of the poll to be released May 10. The Sooners have been ranked in the top 25 of every NFCA poll since its inception, which spans 153 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 Big 12 Championship:
237 - Consecutive games started by Kristin Vesely.
153 - Consecutive weeks since the inception of the NFCA Poll that OU has been ranked in the top-25.
65 - 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
10 - Consecutive seasons with five or more All-Big 12 selections
8 - Consecutive wins for OU in the Bedlam Series
6 - Consecutive Regional Championships
5 - Kristin Vesely’s current hitting streak
3 - Consecutive seasons Gasso has started the season with a freshman at shortstop
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.