NORMAN, Okla. - For the 13th straight year, the Oklahoma softball team notched a 40-win season after posting an overall mark of 40-21-1, including an 8-10 record in Big 12 play.
The young Sooner squad made a strong postseason run, winning 12 of its final 15 contests while finishing second in the Big 12 Championship and advancing to the NCAA Regional Finals for the seventh consecutive year.
Despite a team with only two seniors, the Sooners were an offensive juggernaut, topping all Big 12 schools in nine different offensive categories while ranking among the top 10 in the country in batting average. The Sooner defense was also solid, setting a school record with 24 double plays turned in 2006.
Individually, junior Norrelle Dickson and senior Kristin Vesely highlighted the Sooners’ offense. Vesely represented the Sooners on the NFCA All-America first team after batting .440 with 49 RBI and 123 total bases. The four-time All-Big 12 performer and two-time All-American finishes her career as the all-time hits leader in OU history.
Dickson collected her second All-America honor after being named a second team All-American in 2006. OU’s leadoff batter claimed the Big 12 batting title (.449 avg) and topped all other Big 12 players in runs scored, hits and on base percentage. Additionally, Vesely and Dickson finished in the top 10 in the NCAA in batting average.
The future looks bright for the Sooners who only lose one starter (Vesely) and return eight position players, including All-Midwest Region shortstop Savannah Long and second team All-Big 12 selection, third baseman Traci Dickenson.
OU’s RBI leader, freshman Samantha Ricketts, returns in the designated player role while the Sooners return four members of their pitching staff, including lefty D.J. Mathis who led the squad in ERA and wins this season.
In addition to its core group of 15 letterwinners returning, the Sooners have also signed one of the top recruiting classes in the country. With three incoming freshman and a two-time juco All-American pitcher, the Sooners will be aiming for their sixth trip to the Women’s College World Series.
VESELY AND DICKSON CLAIM ALL-AMERICA HONORS
Kristin Vesely and Norrelle Dickson were named to the 2006 Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I All-America teams. Vesely earned first team honors as an at large selection while Dickson claimed second team honors as an outfielder.
Vesely joined Texas’ Cat Osterman as one of only two Big 12 players selected to the first team. It marked the second straight All-America honor for the senior center fielder as she was also a second team pick in 2005.
One of the most impressive hitters in OU softball history, Vesely finished her tenure at OU as the all-time leader in hits at Oklahoma. Additionally she finished among the top 10 on 10 different OU career charts and was one of 25 finalists for the USA Softball Player of the Year award.
During her senior campaign, the center fielder posted a .440 batting average while leading the team in doubles (17), slugging percentage (.637) and walks (28) while also recording 49 RBI, three triples and five home runs. The four-time All-Big 12 performer ranked second in the Big 12 and ninth among the NCAA in batting average.
Dickson also picked up her second straight All-America honor (a 2005 third-team selection) after leading the Sooners’ offensive attack this season. The junior recorded a Big 12-best .449 batting average (sixth in the NCAA) while also leading the conference in hits (1.50 per game), runs scored (1.06 per game) and on base percentage (.515).
The Sooners lead all Big 12 schools with 22 All-Americans in school history. The only other Big 12 players to earn All-America honors in 2006 were Brette Reagan (second team) and Chelsi Lake (third team) of Baylor and KU’s Serena Settlemier (second team).
FOUR SOONERS COLLECT ALL-MIDWEST REGION HONORS
Four players on the Oklahoma softball team were named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Midwest All-Region team. Garnering first team acclaim were junior left fielder Norrelle Dickson, freshman designated player Samantha Ricketts and senior center fielder Kristin Vesely. Earning second team honors for the Sooners was sophomore infielder Savannah Long.
Dickson picked up the third straight All-Region honor of her career while it marked the second accolade for Vesely. Ricketts and Long made their first appearance on the Midwest All-Region Team. All-time OU has collected 62 All-Midwest Region honors.
It marked the second week for all four players to be honored. Dickson, Ricketts and Vesely were all named to the All-Big 12 first team last week while Savannah Long earned second team honors. Additionally, Ricketts, the lone freshman on the All-Big 12 first team joined Vesely on the Big 12 All-Tournament team.
VESELY FINISHES AS USA SOFTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR FINALIST
Senior center fielder Kristin Vesely was named one of 25 candidates for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. It marked the second consecutive year that Vesely made the list of 25. Unlike last year, the senior did not make the final list of 10 that was announced May 10. Vesely was on the Preseason Watch List that was comprised of 40 players and was joined by fellow Sooner Norrelle Dickson.
DICKSON SELECTED PLAY IN USA SOFTBALL WORLD GAMES
Oklahoma left fielder Norrelle Dickson was selected for the 2006 World University Games roster. Dickson will be one of 17 collegiate players representing the U.S. at the Championships July 15-23 in Tainan City, Taiwan.
Dickson is no stranger to the USA scene as she was a member of the 2003 USA Softball National Elite Team and a player on the 2004 USA Elite Team that the won the inaugural World University Softball Championship in 2004.
Over 30 of the nation’s top collegiate players were invited to a selection camp for the team, June 8-11, in Chula Vista, Calif. Dickson joined 16 others on the final roster that will be represent the U.S. in the Championship.
REGIONAL NO. 9 LEFTOVERS
Oklahoma made its 13th straight appearance in an NCAA Regional ... Oklahoma made its seventh straight appearance in an NCAA Regional final ... Michigan’s 5-2 win in extra-innings in the regional final snapped OU’s streak of six straight regional championships ... Both of OU’s losses to Michigan were in extra innings ... In the first game vs. Michigan, the nine-inning contest was OU’s longest of the season ... The Sooners have outscored opponents 116-29 in NCAA Regional action history ... Freshman D.J. Mathis was one out away from throwing OU’s first ever postseason no-hitter in a 1-0 victory over Kent State ... OU hit .261 as a team ... OU’s 16 hits against Kent State was its second-highest total of the season and best performance all year in a five-inning contest ... Nicole Denes and Mathis combined for a 1.48 ERA in four games ... Norrelle Dickson (.467 avg) and Kristin Vesely (.462 avg.) led the Sooners at the plate and scored seven of OU’s 12 runs ... Savannah Long led the Sooners with six RBI and the team’s only home run of the regional ... Dickson tallied a hit in each game and owns a 12-game hitting streak heading into next season.
CAREER HITS LEADER
With her 3-for-4 outing against Kent State in the NCAA Regional, senior Kristin Vesely became the career hits leader at the University of Oklahoma. In her four-year career at OU, the two-time All-American finished with 293 career hits and also owns the top mark in career at bats (798). The previous record of 289 was held by All-American Lisa Carey (1998-01).
Ironically, senior-to-be Norrelle Dickson, also a two-time All-American, is on pace to break Vesely’s record in 2007. Dickson owns 241 career hits in her three-year tenure after recording 93 hits in 2006.
SOONERS HEADLINE BIG 12 OFFENSE IN 2006
OU’s Norrelle Dickson and Kristin Vesely finished the year as the top two leaders in offense. Dickson slid ahead of Vesely for the Big 12 lead in batting average. Dickson owned a Big 12-best .449 average on the year while Vesely followed with a .440 clip (second in the Big 12).
Dickson led the league with 93 hits on the season, a 1.50 per game average, while Vesely was right behind her with a 1.37 per game average.
Additionally, Dickson and Vesely were first and second in the conference in runs scored. Dickson led with 66 scored on the year while Vesely was plated 54 runs.
Dickson (.515) and Vesely (.511) were No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in on base percentage for the conference.
With her 17 doubles on the season, Vesely ranked first among the Big 12 while Savannah long was eighth 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 .311 clip through the entire season. The Sooners were also tops in on base percentage (.384), runs (347), hits (524), doubles (85) and RBI (313).
OU VS. NCAA FIELD
In addition to leading the Big 12 in offense, the Sooners are also among the top offensive teams in the country year in and year out. To the right is a look at where Oklahoma stood as a team and individually among NCAA teams for the season.
The Sooners remained in both top 25 polls all season long. OU finished 2006 with a No. 17 ranking in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and a No. 18 ranking in the USA Today/NFCA poll. Oklahoma has been ranked in the top 25 of every NFCA poll since its inception, which spans 155 weeks. OU and Arizona, the 2006 National Champions, are the only programs to be ranked in the NFCA Top-25 every week of its existence.
Notable streaks from the 2006 season:
245 - Consecutive games started by Kristin Vesely.
155 - Consecutive weeks since the inception of the NFCA Poll that OU has been ranked in the top-25.
73 - Consecutive games Kristin Vesely has not committed an error, dating back to May 1, 2005
13 - Consecutive trips to the NCAA postseason
13 - Consecutive seasons of 40 or more wins, 12 under Gasso.
10 - Consecutive seasons with five or more All-Big 12 selections
9 - Consecutive wins for OU in the Bedlam Series
9 - Consecutive years that OU has won its opening game in an NCAA Regional
12 - Norrelle Dickson’s hitting streak entering the 2007 season
FINAL BIG 12 STANDINGS
SOONERS PLACE FOUR ON ALL-BIG 12 TOURNEY TEAM
In addition to its run to the Big 12 title game as the No. 5 seed, Oklahoma led all schools with four Sooners being named to the Big 12 All-Tournament team. Freshman Samantha Ricketts led the way for OU after hitting .545 in tournament action with six RBI and .909 slugging percentage.
Joining Ricketts on the team were fellow freshman D.J. Mathis (2-1, 1.00 ERA), junior Amber Spaulding (.444, 5 RBI) and senior Kristin Vesely (.308, 3 RBI).
It marked the second honor for Vesely, who also earned all-tourney honors as a freshman in 2003, and the first honor of their career for Ricketts, Mathis and Spaulding.
FIVE SOONERS NAMED TO ALL-BIG 12 TEAMS
Oklahoma landed five players on the All-Big 12 teams that were announced at the annual pre-Big 12 Championship Banquet. Kristin Vesely, Norrelle Dickson and Samantha Ricketts highlighted the first team while Savannah Long and Traci Dickenson comprised the second team. The Sooners have placed at least five members on the All-Big 12 teams every year since the inception of the league in 1996.
For Vesely, it was the fourth All-Big 12 honor of her career and third first team honor. Dickson picked up her second straight first team All-Big 12 honor while it marks Long, Ricketts and Dickenson’s first All-Big 12 accolade.
BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS
OU leads all Big 12 schools with 46 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.
THE 500 AND 700 CLUB
OU head coach Patty Gasso won the 700th game of her collegiate head coaching career with a 4-0 defeat of Nebraska on May 1, 2005. The 700 victories have come during stops at OU and Long Beach City College.
Gasso won the 500th game of her OU coaching career on Feb. 18, 2005 in an 11-1 win over Lipscomb. Her OU career mark is 584-200-2 (.744). She distanced herself from the previous Sooner coaches a long time ago. In fact the next closest in career wins is former OU administrator Marita Hynes, who went 256-189 from 1977-84.
Gasso’s current career record (Oklahoma and Long Beach City College) is 746-259-2 (.741).
GASSO INKS FOUR FOR 2007
The Oklahoma softball program continued its success on the recruiting trail and signed three athletes to National Letters of Intent last November during the early signing period and one juco standout, Lauren Eckermann (Temple Junior College), in the spring. Joining the Sooners in the fall of 2006 will be Amber Flores (El Centro, Calif.), Iver McDonald (Houston, Texas) and Lindsey Vandever (Stroud, Okla.).
Brenahm, Texas (Temple Junior College)
Temple Junior College
Known as one of the best juco pitchers in the country in 2006 ... Two-time second team NJCAA All-American ... Led all NJCAA pitchers with a 0.17 ERA in 2006 ... Claimed all-conference and all-region honors both years at Temple Junior College ... Led the Temple Leopards to a No. 1 NJCAA national ranking, its highest in program history ... Allowed only five earned runs in 205 innings while striking out 310 batters and only surrendering 72 hits and 29 walks ... Selected as the conference Pitcher of the Year two consecutive years.
SS/2B, 5-4, R/R
El Centro, Calif. (Southwest H.S.)
Two-year starter at El Centro High School where she will complete her senior season this spring ... Served as team’s captain as a junior ... Two-time Imperial Valley Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005 ... Two-time all-district selection ... Honored as a two-time All-CIF member ... Named the team’s Outstanding Hitter as a sophomore and a junior ... Led Imperial Valley League as a junior (Spring 2005) in batting average (.600), RBI (43) and home runs (10) ... Also third in the league in stolen bases with nine ... Selected as a 2004 and 2005 All-League first team member ... Named to the San Diego Union Tribune 2005 all-selection second team ... Played freshman season at Calexico High School where she earned Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year honors for her squad ... Plays club ball for the Delong Outlaws Gold coached by Bobby Pena ... Will be one of four Sooners from California on the OU roster in 2006-07.
UTL, 5-3, R/R
Houston, Texas (J. Frank Dobie H.S.)
Four-year letter winner at J. Frank Dobie High School under Coach Robin Rackley ... Set to complete senior softball season this spring ... Two-time first team all-district ... Two-time Dobie H.S. Offensive Player of the Year ... Led high school to Bi-District Finals in 2005 ... Named to the PISD all tournament team in 2004 ... Selected as the Student-Athlete of the Year as a junior ... Named to the all-greater Houston second team as a sophomore ... Member of 2004 Regional Quarterfinal squad ... Played on 2003 Area Finalist team as a freshman ... Multi-sport athlete who also lettered in volleyball and track... Competed on the South Houston Mystixx Club team for Coach Ricky Garza .... Led the Mystixx to 17th place at ASA Gold Nationals in 2004 and 2005 ... Guided Mystixx to second-place honors in 2005 ASA Gold Qualifier ... Has sister, Sharonda (20), who is a junior outfielder on the Texas A&M softball team.
Catcher, 5-6, R/R
Stroud, Okla. (Davenport H.S.)
Four-year letterwinner at Davenport High School where she was coached by Gary Cook ... Led high school squad to three state titles, four regional titles and four district titles during her four-year career ... Batted .522 during her high school career ... Selected as an all-state member during senior campaign ... Three-time all-conference selection ... Stole 41 of 43 bases in her career ... Also competed for the Tulsa Eagles club team under Coach Dave Simmons ... Led the Eagles to a 15th place tie at ASA Gold National in 2004 ... A standout basketball player entering her final season ... Named to the 2005 preseason all-state list in basketball ... Selected to the basketball all-conference squad as a junior ... Guided squad to district and regional championships as a junior ... Named high school’s basketball offensive player of the year as a sophomore.
OU PLACES FIVE ON ACADEMIC ALL-BIG 12 TEAM
In addition to placing five Sooners on the All-Big 12 teams, Oklahoma also posted five Sooners on the Academic All-Big 12 teams. Leading the pack were first-team honorees Stacia Aleman, Nicole Denes and Jamie Fox. Rounding out the second team were Norrelle Dickson and Jade Prather.
Denes recorded her third straight Academic All-Big 12 honor while Aleman, Dickson, Fox and Prather picked up their second accolade.
FIVE SOONERS NAMED TO BIG 12 ANNIVERSARY TEAM
The Big 12 Conference announced its softball 10th Anniversary Team and Oklahoma led all Big 12 schools with five selections to the squad. Former Sooners Lisa Carey, Christina Enea, Erin Evans, Ashli Barrett and Jennifer Stewart represented Oklahoma on the anniversary team.
Rounding out the entire team were infielders Jennifer Lizama (Nebraska) and Lindsay Gardner (Texas) while Nicole Trimboli (Nebraska) and Sandy Butler (Texas Tech) were selected as outfielders. Peaches James (Nebraska) was the utility/designated player selection while Lauren Bay (Oklahoma State) and Cat Osterman (Texas) rounded out the pitchers.
The selections were made by a combined media panel. In order to be eligible for consideration, candidates had to have been an All-Big 12 First Team selection.
BIG 12 HISTORY
OU has an all-time record of 142-51 (.736) in Big 12 games .... Oklahoma’s 142 wins and .736 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) ... The Sooners have also made the Big 12 Tournament title game on five different occasions ... Only one other school has achieved that feat (Nebraska) ... No Big 12 school has been to the WCWS more than the Sooners (five times).
BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP NOTEBOOK
OU rattled off three straight victories over Texas A&M (17-6), Oklahoma State (10-2 in five innings) and Missouri (4-0) to make their fifth appearance in the title game ... After handing No. 5 seed OU a 4-2 loss, the No. 6 Jayhawks became the lowest seed to ever win the Big 12 Tournament (No. 3 Texas was the previous lowest in 2005) ... Junior Amber Spaulding had a career day against Oklahoma State with a 4-for-4 outing with two triples and five RBI ... Additionally, Spaulding’s two triples in a game tied an OU single game mark held by seven other former Sooners ... Traci Dickenson’s double play against Kansas tied the Sooner record for most in a season (22) shared by the 2004 Sooners ... Oklahoma has been among the final four teams standing in each of the last seven straight years (longest streak in the Big 12).
DOUBLE PLAY HISTORY
The Sooners set a new mark in the OU record books in 2006, turning 24 double plays on the season. The previous record was 22 held by the 2004 squad who did it in 68 games. The Sooners set the record in 62 games played. Shortstop/second baseman Savannah Long was the leading contributor, turning 17 double plays this season. OU averaged .39 double plays per game which ranked 26th among all NCAA schools.
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. In 2006, the duo collected All-American honors again, but Vesely made the switch to the No. 3 spot in the lineup and the Sooners benefited from her success there. Vesely surpassed her 2005 RBI total (30) and owned 49 RBI on the season (second-best on the squad).
TWO OUT RALLY
Oklahoma used a two-out rally to score most of its runs this season as the Sooners hit .297 (166-558) and drove in 41 percent (128-of-313) of their RBI with two outs. No player showed this skill more than Kristin Vesely who pounded 50 percent (25-of-49) of her RBI with two outs.
The Sooners also took advantage of runners in scoring position as Oklahoma hit at a .340 clip with runners in scoring position. In addition, the threesome of Kristin Vesely (.480), Samantha Ricketts (.385) and Norrelle Dickson (.542) were extremely successful with a runner in scoring position.
IT TAKES SEVEN TO WIN
The lucky number for OU this year was seven as the Sooners were 22-0-1 when scoring seven or more runs in a game. Conversely, Oklahoma was 18-21 when not scoring seven plus runs.
SCORE FIRST = SUCCESS
Scoring first was also key in OU’s victories this season as the Sooners went 34-4 when getting on the board first and 23-7 when scoring in the first inning.
EXTRA BASE HITS
The Sooners were second in the Big 12 in extra base hits with 147 on the season. OU posted an extra-base hit in 49 of 62 games this season, including 39 games with two or more extra-base hits. The Sooners’ season high for extra-base hits this season was seven (4 HR, 3 2B) set against Indiana on Feb. 17 and Utah Valley State on March 11 (4 2B, 3 HR). Kristin Vesely led the Sooners with 25 extra base hits on the year (17 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR) while Savannah Long (12 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR) followed with 21 on the season.
WORTH NOTING ...
The Sooners won 12 of their final 15 games of the season ... Senior Kristin Vesely set a career-high with 28 walks on the season .... The Sooners have won nine straight meetings against Oklahoma State ... Kristin Vesely finished her career on a 73-game errorless streak dating back to May 1, 2005 ... OU’s win over Texas A&M (4/8) snapped the Aggies’ 20-game streak of home conference wins that dated back to April 22, 2003 ... The Sooners’ 15 hits in the win over Texas A&M marked the most hits the Aggies have given up the entire season ... Kristin Vesely finished in the top 10 on 11 different OU career charts (see page 7 ) ... OU’s 15 triples this season was two better than its final season total in 2005 ... By starting against Washington (2/10), freshman Jessica Legendre became the third consecutive freshman to start 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 finished the season with the team’s longest hitting streak of the season (12) ... During that span (4/30-Current), Dickson batted .488 (21-of-43) with two doubles, 13 runs scored and a .535 slugging percentage.
VESELY DRAFTED IN NPF AND PFX TOUR
Senior Oklahoma softball player Kristin Vesely was a hot commodity for professional softball organizations in her senior season. 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.
2006 OU SOFTBALL TIMELINE
Below is a look at key dates for Oklahoma softball in 2006:
Feb. 23, 2006
Oklahoma defeats its first ranked team of the season with a 1-0 shut out of No. 22 Oregon in the Palm Springs Classic.
April 23, 2006
The Sooners beat Iowa State 8-6 in Ames beginning a 10-game winning streak, their longest of the season that ended with a loss to Kansas in the Big 12 Championship title game. During that stretch, OU claimed its ninth straight win over Oklahoma State and knocked off higher-seeded Texas A&M in the opening game of the Big 12 Championship. The winning streak marked head coach Patty Gasso’s 16th winning streak of at least 10 or more games.
May 12, 2006
OU shuts out Missouri, 4-0, to advance to the Big 12 Championship title game for the fifth time in program history.
May 13, 2006
The Sooners are selected to participate in an NCAA Regional for the 13th straight year. The Sooners were a No. 2 seed and headed to Ann Arbor, Mich., to face the defending National Champions, the Michigan Wolverines.
May 20, 2006
Senior Kristin Vesely sets a new career hits mark at OU after going 3-for-4 in OU’s 9-1 victory over Kent State in the NCAA Regional. For her career, Vesely owned 293 career hits, breaking the previous mark of 289 held by Lisa Carey (1998-2001).
This date was also key for Sooner head coach Patty Gasso as she collected her 40th win of the season with the Sooners’ victory over Kent State. In all 12 years at Oklahoma, Gasso has led the Sooners to 40 wins every season.
June 1, 2006
Sooners Kristin Vesely and Norrelle Dickson earn All-America honors for the Sooners. Both were named All-Americans in 2005, but Vesely picked up her inaugural first team honor while Dickson collected her first second team honor. With 22 All-Americans in school history, Oklahoma leads all Big 12 schools in All-America honors.