NORMAN, Okla. - Continuing its toughest road stretch of the season, the No. 21 Oklahoma softball team will take on Oklahoma State this Wednesday. The first pitch of the Bedlam Series, presented by the Bank of Oklahoma and your Oklahoma Ford Dealers, will be thrown at 7 p.m. in Stillwater, Okla.
Wednesday night’s game is already sold out, but a limited number of general admission tickets may become available at the gate.
Following the Bedlam showdown, OU will head to College Station, Texas, for a match up against No. 17 Texas A&M April 8-9. Both games will be televised on ESPN with Saturday’s game slated for 11:00 a.m. and Sunday’s contest starting at 3:30 p.m.
The Sooners will round out their seven-game road stretch with a doubleheader against No. 18 Baylor on Monday, April 10 with game one slated for 5 p.m. in Waco, Texas.
Wednesday night’s game will be carried on two radio stations. The OU radio broadcast will be aired on KOKC (1520 AM) with Brian Brinkley (play-by-play) and Sooner alum Kami Keiter (color) calling the game. The OSU broadcast with Bill Van Ness can be found on KGFY (105.5 FM).
SCOUTING OKLAHOMA STATE
The Cowgirls (16-16) enter the Bedlam opener with a 2-2 mark in Big 12 play after splitting with Iowa State and Kansas the last two weekends, including a 12-0 run rule (five innings) of the Jayhawks this past Sunday in Lawrence.
|See how the Sooners stack up against OSU in the Bedlam Series presented by the Bank of Oklahoma and Your Oklahoma Ford Dealers!|
As she did last season, junior lead off batter Shanel Scott is setting up the OSU offense as the speedy slapper is hitting a team-best .374 with a perfect 8-for-8 on stolen bases.
Driving in the Pokes’ runs is clean up batter Kim Kaye (.318 avg) who leads the team with 33 RBI, nine doubles and seven home runs on the year. Another key player the Sooners need to be aware of is left fielder Lauren Kitchens, who is hitting .444 in Big 12 play.
As a team, the Cowgirls are in the middle of the pack of the Big 12 with a .272 overall average and rank second in the conference with 208 strikeouts.
Oklahoma State posts a team ERA of 3.51 (ninth in Big 12). The ace for the Pokes is junior Jessica Hoppock (3.40 ERA, 9-11) who is averaging 5.15 strikeouts in 26 appearances and is holding opponents to a .267 average. The right hander saw limited action for OSU in 2004, but took both losses against the Sooners in 2003 as she gave up six earned runs and 14 hits in both Bedlam contests combined.
In the all-time series between both schools, Oklahoma State leads with a 62-53 advantage, but the Sooners have owned the rivalry since the beginning of Big 12 play. OU has swept the series from OSU in eight of the 10 seasons of conference play, and has done no worse than split during those 10 years. Additionally, Oklahoma has claimed six straight wins in the rivalry and 20 of the last 21.
2005 BEDLAM RECAP
In the first meeting of the Bedlam rivalry in Norman last year, Oklahoma used an offensive rout to blow out the Cowgirls in a 9-0 six-inning run rule contest. Jamie Fox was a key component in the victory as she hammered a two RBI double to score the first two runs of the game.
The squads met in Stillwater for the second game of the series and a much closer game, which resulted in the Sooners winning a close 3-2 game in nine innings. Stacy Braddock was impressive as she recorded her best Big 12 start of the season after allowing one earned run on a wild pitch and gave up only five hits in 5.1 innings of work. Offensively, former Sooner Christina Enea recorded the game-winning hit while Kristin Vesely was the only Sooner to post two hits in the game.
With a 1-5 record, Oklahoma is off to its worst start in Big 12 history and is looking for momentum as it takes on the Cowgirls this Wednesday in game three of a tough seven-game road stretch for the Sooners.
Offensively, the Sooners are clicking on all cylinders as they lead the Big 12 in nine different offensive categories, including a conference-best .317 clip and 211 RBI through 38 games. The catalysts for the Sooner offense have been 2005 All-Americans Kristin Vesely (.492, 34 RBI) and Norrelle Dickson (.476, 15 stolen bases). Between the two of them, they rank in the top 5 of nine different Big 12 offensive categories, including the top mark on four of those lists (conference rankings listed on pages 13-18).
Oklahoma’s biggest struggle remains inside the pitching circle after the loss of four-time All-Big 12 performer Kami Keiter. As a unit, the staff owns a 3.35 ERA and has struggled in Big 12 play with a 6.00 ERA in league contests only. The freshmen class continues to lead the five-member pitching staff as left D.J. Mathis owns a team-best 2.39 ERA and an 8-3 overall mark while Morgan Hudsonpillar is right behind with a 2.95 ERA and a 4-4 mark in 19 appearances.
Facing its 10th top-25 opponent of the season, OU struggled against No. 19 Nebraska in Lincoln this past weekend as the Sooners were swept by the Huskers in a 9-1 six-inning run-rule contest and a 3-0 shutout in the second game of the doubleheader on Saturday. The Sooners couldn’t recover after giving up four runs in the first inning of game one and only tallying four hits, offensively. It was more of the same in the second game as Nebraska went up 3-0 in the bottom of the first after pounding back-to-back homers while the Sooners could only post three hits in the entire contest. Additionally, the losses marked OU’s first two road losses of the season.
The Sooners fell to No. 21 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball that was released April 4. In the most recent USA Today/NFCA poll (March 28), the Sooners are No. 17 in the weekly poll. The Sooners have been ranked in the top 25 of every NFCA poll since its inception, which spans 149 weeks long. OU and Arizona are the only programs to be ranked in the NFCA Top-25 every week of its existence.
BIG 12 HISTORY
OU has an all-time record of 141-44 (.762) in Big 12 games .... Oklahoma’s 141 wins and .762 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).
PLAYER TO WATCH: TRACI DICKENSON
Freshman Traci Dickenson has made herself known in the first six games of Big 12 play as the third baseman is batting .400 (6-for-15) in league play with a team-best 13 total bases, five RBI, one double and two home runs. The nine-hole hitter, who has posted five homers on the season, owned a .283 average prior to the start of conference play, but has pushed her overall clip to .307 for the year.
Dickenson has also been a key component to the Sooner defense as she has aided in five of OU’s 17 double plays on the year while making impressive defensive stops at the hot corner.
IT TAKES SEVEN TO WIN
The lucky number for OU this year has been seven as the Sooners are 15-0-1 when scoring seven or more runs in a game. Conversely, Oklahoma is 9-13 when not scoring seven plus runs. Additionally, the Sooners are 19-3 when scoring first.
Sophomore Savannah Long is the lone Sooner to start at the same position (second base) for the entire year and one of only three Sooners to start all 38 games this season. Senior Kristin Vesely has started 35 games in center field and three at catcher while junior Norrelle Dickson has 31 starts in left field and seven at third base.
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 all of her time at second base. Junior All-American (third team) Norrelle Dickson uses her speed mostly 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 six starts in the same position, in addition to appearances in left field (seven starts), but most of her time has come in the designated player spot (18 starts). Senior Kristin Vesely was expected to be the lone consistency in the outfield where she has started most of her career. However, Vesely has started at catcher in three of the last four games.
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 entering game one of the Bedlam:
221 - Consecutive games started by Kristin Vesely.
149 - 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
7 - Savannah Long’s longest hitting streak of her career that was snapped against Nebraska last week
6 - Consecutive Regional Championships
6 - Consecutive wins for OU in the Bedlam Series
3 - Consecutive seasons Gasso has started a freshman at shortstop
SOONERS HEADLINING BIG 12 OFFENSE
OU’s Norrelle Dickson and Kristin Vesely are highlighting the Big 12’s offense so far this season. Vesely leads the Big 12 with a .492 clip while Dickson follows in second with a .476 overall season batting average.
Dickson leads the league with 59 hits each on the season, a 1.55 per game average.
Additionally, Dickson and Vesely are the top two in the conference in runs scored. Dickson leads with 42 scored on the year while Vesely is second with 34 on the season.
Vesely (.560) and Dickson (.545) are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in on base percentage for the conference.
Vesely ranks third in the conference with 34 RBI while freshman Samantha Ricketts holds the seventh spot with 30 RBI on the year.
The Sooners lead the Big 12 in doubles thanks to Vesely and sophomore Savannah Long. Vesely leads the conference with 11 two-baggers on the year while Long is right behind Vesely with 10 doubles hit on the season.
BIG 12 BEST - PART TWO
Along with individual leaders, the Sooners are also leading the conference in overall team batting with a .317 clip. The Sooners are also tops in on base percentage (.396), slugging percentage (.487), runs (230), hits (326), doubles (61), RBI (211) and base on balls (112).
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.
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 .476 clip (second in Big 12) while averaging 1.55 hits a game and has already surpassed last season’s RBI mark with 18 through 36 games in 2006. Below is a look at how Dickson stacks up against other top leadoff batters in the conference:
OU’s opponents might feel like they’re seeing double as the Sooners have successfully turned 17 double plays in 2006, a Big 12 best. Baylor owns the second-best margin in the Big 12 with 12 this season. In addition, Oklahoma leads all teams in the top-10 polls with 17 double plays.
The single season high for a Sooner squad is 22 set in 2004 after playing 68 games. With a 53-game regular season schedule, Oklahoma is on pace to break that mark in the regular season alone. Second baseman Savannah Long is the leading contributor with 13 double plays turned on the season.
Through 38 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 33 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:
-Ricketts is second on squad with 30 RBI and third on team with a .330 batting average and six home runs
-Dickenson has homered five times on the season and is hitting .400 in Big 12 play with five RBI (fifth in Big 12)
-Mathis (2.39 ERA) and Hudsonpillar (2.95 ERA) lead the staff in ERA this season
-Shortstop Jessica Legendre has helped turn seven of OU’s 17 double plays this year.
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 ranks third in the conference with 34 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 .304 (102-for-336) and have driven in 41 percent (87-of-211) of their RBI with two outs. No player has shown this skill more than Kristin Vesely who has pounded 20 of her team-leading 34 RBI with two outs.
The Sooners have taken advantage of runners in scoring position as Oklahoma is hitting at a .556 clip with a runner at third and less than two outs. In addition, the threesome of Kristin Vesely (.556), Samantha Ricketts (.700) and Norrelle Dickson (.778) have been extremely successful with a runner on third and less than two outs.
EXTRA BASE HITS
The Sooners lead the Big 12 in extra base hits this season and have posted an extra-base hit in 33 of 38 games this season, including 27 games with two or more extra-base hits. The Sooners’ season high for extra-base hits this season is seven (4 HR, 3 2B) set against Indiana on Feb. 17 and Utah Valley State on March 11 (4 2B, 3 HR). Kristin Vesely leads the Sooners with 17 extra base hits on the year (11 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR) while Savannah Long follows with 14 on the season (10 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR).
WORTH NOTING ...
Kristin Vesely currently ranks in the top 10 on 11 different OU career charts (see page 7 ) ... With her double against Missouri (3/26), Vesely moved into fourth on the career doubles list ... Vesely only needs one more triple to move into No. 6 on the career triples list ... The Nebraska series snapped Savannah Long and Samantha Ricketts’ seven-game hitting streaks, a career high for each ... OU’s nine triples this season equals its final season total in 2005 ... Oklahoma leads the Big 12 in nine different offensive categories ... Through 38 games, the Sooners are six double plays shy of breaking the single season record (22) ... Freshman Jessica Legendre set a career high with two hits against North Texas (3/22) ... By starting against Washington (2/10), freshman Jessica Legendre became the third consecutive freshman to start the season 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 recorded the team’s longest hitting streak (eight games) of the season ... During that streak (3/5-3/15), Dickson batted .724 (21-of-29) with five extra-base hits (2 2B, 3 3B).
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.
The 2006 Pre-Season Watch List is comprised of 50 players representing 28 schools and 10 different NCAA Division I Conferences. USA Softball will announce its 25 finalists on April 5. A player does not have to appear on the initial watch list to be considered as a Top 25 finalist, but once the Top 25 is named the remaining finalists must be selected from that list.
Just days before the start of post-season play, a list of 10 finalists will be named and released on May 10. The three finalists will be announced May 31. The winner of the 2006 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be announced during the NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
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.
JENNIFER STEWART ON NCAA 25TH ANNIVERSARY BALLOT
Two-time All-American pitcher Jennifer Stewart (1999-2002), who guided the 2000 softball team to the squad’s first NCAA Championship, has been selected to the NCAA’s 25th Anniversary Team ballot.
With 36 athletes and five coaches selected to the ballot, fans will have the opportunity to vote online at www.ncaasports.com until April 1 for their 10-player and one coach 25th anniversary softball team.
The left-handed hurler was named the 2000 Women’s College World Series Most Outstanding Player after guiding Oklahoma to its first women’s national title with a 3-1 defeat of softball powerhouse UCLA. In addition to her two All-America accolades, Stewart was a three-time All-Midwest Region selection and a four-time All-Big 12 honoree.
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.