NORMAN, Okla. - The No. 10 Oklahoma softball team will enjoy a five-game home stand after being on the road the past two weekends. The Sooners open the week with a 4 p.m. match up against Oklahoma City University this Thursday, March 2 at the OU Softball Complex.
Fans can watch the action live as the game will be broadcast on the O-Zone. In addition, live statistics of the OU vs. OCU game will be available on SoonerSports.com.
Following the OCU game, OU will turn its attention to the Norman Residence Inn Invitational set for March 4-5 and hosted by Oklahoma. OU opens tournament play with a highly anticipated contest against No. 19 LSU slated for 2:15 p.m. on Saturday followed by a 4:30 p.m. meeting with Troy. In Sunday’s action, the Sooners will take on the Tigers at 12:15 p.m. followed by a 2:30 p.m. game against Troy.
TICKETS AND PROMOTIONS
Seats to Thursday’s game 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. Thursday is also $.50 hot dog and coke day at Marita Hynes Field and the first 250 fans will receive a free OU schedule magnet.
WEEKEND IN REVIEW
The Sooners are coming off one of their toughest tournaments of the season after going 4-2 this past weekend at the Palm Springs Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. OU went head-to-head with three top-25 teams in the tournament.
Oklahoma opened the Classic with a 1-0 shutout over No. 22 Oregon. Sophomore Stacy Braddock pitched her second shutout of the year and held the Ducks to five hits while fanning six batters in seven innings of work. The Sooners scored their only run of the game after a Savannah Long single was followed by a double steal to score Jade Prather and give Oklahoma the lead and eventual game-winning run.
In Friday’s action, Oklahoma dropped a 4-2 contest to No. 23 Fresno State as the Bulldogs rallied in the seventh inning with three runs on four hits. FSU’s Robin Mackin was impressive in the circle after striking out 11 Sooners on her way to the win.
Rebounding from the loss, Oklahoma responded with a 6-2 victory over UC-Santa Barbara Friday night. Nicole Denes powered the offense with her grand slam to give the Sooners the eventual lead as she also picked up her fourth win in the circle.
The Sooners were perfect in Saturday action as they took wins over Cal Poly, 5-2, and rallied to beat Pacific, 8-5. Against Cal Poly, Savannah Long (2-for-3, 2 RBI) and Amber Spaulding (2-for-3, 1 RBI) highlighted the offense. In the Pacific contest, Oklahoma rallied in the sixth inning off a Norrelle Dickson single and a Susan Ogden fielder’s choice to tie the game up and give Oklahoma the eventual lead.
The most highly anticipated match up of the Classic came in the Sunday finale when Oklahoma met up with No. 3 UCLA on ESPNU. The Sooners were impressive in the first four innings as starter Denes pitched to the minimum number of batters through 4.1 innings, but UCLA collected three hits in the final two innings to earn the victory, 2-0. Despite the loss, Oklahoma out hit the Bruins, 4-3, but was unable to capitalize as it left six runners on base.
After its five home contests, Oklahoma will hit the road for a battle against in-state rival Tulsa next Wednesday, March 8 at 6 p.m. in Tulsa, Okla. The Sooners will return home for the OU/Worth Invitational set for March 11-12 at the OU Softball Complex. OU will take on North Texas at 2:15 p.m. Saturday followed by a 4:30 p.m. meeting with Utah Valley State. In Sunday’s action, Oklahoma will face Utah Valley State at 12:15 p.m. and North Texas at 2:30 p.m.
SCOUTING OKLAHOMA CITY UNIVERSITY
OCU arrives with a perfect 7-0 record in NAIA play, including a 2-0 mark in conference play after defeating SNU in a doubleheader (13-10, 8-0) Wednesday night. The Stars are one of the favorites for the NAIA title, which they have won seven times in their history with the latest trophy coming in 2002.
The Stars are clicking on all cylinders entering the contest as they are hitting .457 for the season while the staff is holding opponents to a .125 average and owns a 1.33 ERA.
Offensively, OCU has five players batting .500 or better for the season with Cat Calvert, Jill Vaughn and Randi Scheer headlining the group. Calvert leads the squad with 14 RBI in just five games while Vaughn is hitting .500 for the season and Scheer has hammered a team-leading three home runs, with two in OCU’s last game.
Pitcher Dash Shembereva leads the staff effort with an 0.36 ERA and a perfect 6-0 record and 62 strikeouts.
Oklahoma leads the all-time series against OCU, 39-13, and is currently on a six-game winning streak against the Stars. The most recent meeting between both schools was February 22, 2005 when the Sooners beat the Stars, 8-3, at the OU Softball Complex.
For the third straight week, the Sooners have earned a top 10 ranking in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, released Feb. 28. Oklahoma is also at No. 10 in the latest (3/1) USA Today/NFCA poll. The Sooners have been ranked in the top 25 of every NFCA poll since its inception, which spans 145 weeks long. OU and Arizona are the only programs to be ranked in the NFCA Top-25 every week of its existence.
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.
PLAYER TO WATCH: KRISTIN VESELY
The senior center fielder was a second team All-American in 2005 and has kept up the same pace in 2006. Vesely has not disappointed this season as she’s been named to the USA Player of the Year watch list.
Through 17 games this season, Vesely is on pace to break her 2005 school record hitting percentage of .451. She averaged 1.45 hits in 2005 en route to the Big 12 batting title. Currently, she’s hitting .551 with an average of 1.60 hits per game.
Though 17 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 13 of 14 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:
-Account for 25 percent of OU’s putouts in the field
-Samantha Ricketts is hitting .310 with 13 RBI (second-best behind senior Kristin Vesely)
-Ricketts and Traci Dickenson are two of six Sooners to hit a home run this year
-Rookie pitcher Morgan Hudsonpillar owns a staff-best 2.62 ERA
-Shortstop Jessica Legendre had clutch hits in the final inning of two come-from-behind victories at the UNLV Classic
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.
Swiping 22 of 24 bases this season, Oklahoma owns the best stolen base percentage (.917) of all teams in the Big 12. Junior Norrelle Dickson leads the squad with seven stolen bases on seven attempts (fourth in the Big 12) while junior Amber Spaulding is next with a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen bases, followed by Kristin Vesely’s 4-for-4.
The trio of Norrelle Dickson, Jamie Fox and Kristin Vesely have been extremely successful at the plate for the Sooners when Oklahoma has runners in scoring position. Vesely leads the pack with a .571 (12-for-21) with runners in scoring position as she also leads the team with 17 RBI. Dickson is hitting right at .500 (7-for14) while Fox owns a .438 average (7-for-16) with runners at second or third.
Oklahoma is second in the Big 12 in fielding percentage with only 11 errors committed this season despite starting three freshmen in the infield and recording 142 attempts (the second most in the Big 12). The Sooners own a .977 fielding percentage and are a sliver behind Nebraska’s .978 percentage. The Huskers have only committed four errors the entire 2006 season.
VESELY NAMED BIG 12 CO-PLAYER OF THE WEEK
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, a selection to the USA Player of the Year watch list, led No. 10 Oklahoma to a 5-0-1 record for the week of Feb. 13-19 as she 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. After adding two doubles and a triple on the week, the center fielder tallied a 1.000 slugging percentage and a .818 on base percentage.
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 through 17 games this season:
201 - Consecutive games started by Kristin Vesely.
145 - 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 for Kristin Vesely
3 - Current hitting streak for Amber Spaulding
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.
VESELY AMONG BIG 12’S BEST
Kristin Vesely ranks among the best in the Big 12, offensively. Vesely owns a .551 clip, second among all Big 12 players, and leads the league in RBI (17) hits (27) triples (3) and ranks third in the conference with 15 runs scored.
Additionally, she ranks third in the conference in total bases, averaging 2.24 per game and second in the league in on base percentage with a .623 average.
BIG 12 BEST - PART TWO
Junior Norrelle Dickson also sits among the Big 12 bests in hits and stolen bases. The left fielder ranks second with 1.29 hits per game and is tied for fourth with seven stolen bases on the year.
While both Dickson and Vesely are leading the Big 12 in hitting, they are also tops among Big 12 players walked. Vesely has been walked 10 times this season (third in Big 12) while Dickson has walked eight times (sixth in the Big 12).
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.