2006 OU Softball
The 2006 softball season officially gets underway Tuesday, Jan. 17 when the Sooners report for individual practices. Team practices begin Monday, Jan. 23. OU will have four weeks of preparation before competing in its opening season tournament, the UNLV Alexis Resort Kickoff Classic, in Las Vegas, Nev. (Feb. 10-13).
In preparation for the upcoming season, SoonerSports.com will preview the 2006 Oklahoma softball team under the direction of head coach Patty Gasso, who is in her 12th year at the helm of the Sooner program. The second part in the series features a brief overview of the infield and outfield.
Returning: Stacia Aleman, Savannah Long, Mariee Mena, Susan Ogden (catcher)
Newcomers: Traci Dickenson, Jessica Legendre, Samantha Ricketts (catcher)
The Oklahoma infield will have a new look this season with the addition of the freshmen class to the familiar faces who will take on new roles in 2006.
Anchoring down the left side of the infield will be freshmen Traci Dickenson and Jessica Legendre. Dickenson, also a standout soccer player for the Sooners, brings athleticism, toughness and quickness to third base. The 5-4 right-hander throws great on the run and is showing incredible promise at that position. In addition, Dickenson could see time at second base as well.
Although only a freshman, Legendre is extremely smooth at the shortstop position. She makes fielding look easy with her solid arm and athletic ability.
“I know that these two have the right attitude to play on the left side of the field, “ Gasso said. “The biggest challenge will be their inexperience but the more opportunities they get to play, the better players they will become.”
Veteran junior Stacia Aleman will likely be the staple of the infield at second base. Aleman brings the most experience to the infield and has made tremendous strides in the last year, improving her consistency and confidence.
Sophomore Savannah Long is making the move to the right side of the infield, after seeing a majority of time at shortstop in 2005. The 5-8 right-hander has a flame throwing arm and has a great ability to turn double plays at second base. Long seems a natural at second base, but could also see time at first base where her height and strong arm creates a strong advantage for the Sooners. Whether it’s at second or first, Long will definitely be seeing time on the right side of the field this season.
Also vying for time at first base is junior Mariee Mena. Prior to redshirting last season, Mena was a solid outfielder for the Sooners, but has shown her versatility with her solid play at first base this fall.
“I feel confident with Mariee’s defensive ability at first base,” Gasso said.
The biggest battle of the infield will be at the catcher position. Sophomore Susan Ogden and freshman Samantha Ricketts have the tough task of replacing two-time All-American Heather Scaglione.
While Ogden benefitted from being Scaglione’s backup in 2005, Ricketts brings a stronger arm to the plate. Both are capable of getting the job done in a game.
“The catcher position is not just about defense, but about being the field sergeant and having a good sense of the game,” Gasso said. “Both will have to learn how to handle this role. It’s such a great battle that it could come down to who is producing the most offensively. They both played extremely well in the fall and I’m excited about the possibilities at this position.”
Returning: Norrelle Dickson, Jamie Fox, Kristin Vesely, Jade Prather, Amber Spaulding
Newcomers: Jeannie Douglas
While the infield has a variety of new faces this season, the outfield will be the core of experience for the Sooners. Junior right fielder Jamie Fox and senior center fielder Kristin Vesely bring veteran leadership to the outfield where both combined for only four errors last season.
Vesely will be the captain directing the outfield this season. As a three-year starter in the outfield, the lefty has exceptional speed and incredible range.
Fox had an tremendous season in right field last year after making the switch from third base. The junior came up with clutch plays last season and only tallied one error in right field.
Also seeking time in right field is Amber Spaulding. The junior has battled a vision problem since childhood, but spent the offseason working with a vision specialist which has resulted in improvement in all aspects of her game. Her speed and quickness work well in the outfield.
“The improvements in her game are unbelievable,” Gasso said. “It shows in the way she is hitting her targets in the field and the way she is swinging the bat.”
Taking the left field spot this season is junior Norrelle Dickson. The former third baseman made the switch to left field this fall and has made incredible strides at the position. Dickson is able to use her blazing speed in the outfield and is able to roam more freely at her new position.
“The outfield is still something very new to Norrelle, but she has handled it well,” Gasso commented. “She can get to balls you wouldn’t expect outfielders to get to because she uses her speed and acceleration. She still has work to do, but she is a good enough athlete that she can play the position.”
Providing a backup role at all three positions will be junior outfielder Jade Prather and freshman utility player Jeannie Douglas.
Part 3 - Wednesday, Jan. 18: Pitching and Batting lineup