Home Slate Begins as OU Welcomes MSU, ACU

Andie Beene
By Andie Beene
Assistant Director of Communications

OklahomaMissouri StateAbilene Christian
Courtyard Marriott Tournament
March 2-4 | Norman, Okla. | Marita Hynes Field
Weekend Schedule
Day Opponent Time (CT)
Friday Missouri State 5 p.m.
Saturday Abilene Christian 2:30 p.m.
Saturday Missouri State 5 p.m.
Sunday Abilene Christian 2:30 p.m.
On the Air
Radio 1560 AM | Chris Plank

NORMAN — No. 4/6 Oklahoma softball opens its home slate this weekend as it hosts the 2018 Courtyard Marriott Tournament at Marita Hynes Field. The Sooners welcome Missouri State and Abilene Christian in the round-robin event where each team will face the other squads twice.

The Sooners will take on Missouri State on Friday and Saturday at 5 p.m., and OU’s matchups with Abilene Christian will take place on Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Additionally, the Bears and the Wildcats will face off in neutral-site games on Saturday and Sunday at noon.

This weekend’s games mark the start of a ten-game homestand for Oklahoma, its longest stint of home games this season. Last season, the Sooners went 24-2 in home games, including a 20-1 record in the regular season.

The Sooners were a perfect 5-0 at the 2017 Courtyard Marriott Tournament, taking down Northwestern State once and Evansville and Western Kentucky twice.

All of Oklahoma’s games this weekend can be heard on KEBC 1560 AM in Norman or online via The Franchise 2. Additionally, every OU game will be streamed on SoonerSports.tv for premium subscribers.

General admission tickets are available and can be ordered online or by calling (405) 325-2424 or toll-free at (800) 456-GoOU.

Commanding the Circle

The Oklahoma pitching staff has returned in full force in 2018. Through 11 games, the Sooners have a combined ERA of 0.76, ranked first in the Big 12 and fifth in the nation.

Senior lefty duo Paige Parker (5-1) and Paige Lowary (1-1) lead the conference in individual ERA – Parker holds a 0.42 average through 33.2 innings of work and Lowary has a 0.48 average over 14.2 innings. They also rank 19th and 21st in the nation, respectively.

Sophomore Mariah Lopez leads the Big 12 in strikeouts per seven innings (10.9) and is ranked eighth nationally. Against Montana, Lopez threw her first career double-digit strikeout game with 11 Ks, matching a single-game high in the conference this season. Additionally, Parker is ranked second in the conference with 35 total strikeouts.

Missouri transfer Parker Conrad earned her first OU start against BYU, allowing one hit and no runs in 2.0 innings.

Utility player Nicole Mendes and right-handed pitcher Melanie Olmos have both appeared in relief this season. Mendes has thrown three strikeouts in 6.0 innings, and Olmos pitched one inning against Grand Canyon on Feb. 10.

You Say Goodbye, I Say Alo

Freshman utility player Jocelyn Alo has impressed in her first collegiate season with her power at the plate. The Hauula, Hawaii, native leads the team and the Big 12 in slugging average (.882) and home runs (5). Her five homers rank 16th in the nation and her slugging percentage comes in at 39th nationally.

Alo’s first home run came in her collegiate debut against Weber State on Feb. 9, a solo shot over the left field wall. She homered again at the GCU Kickoff, hitting a two-run blast on Feb. 10 against GCU. Alo added three more homers at the Mary Nutter Classic, going yard twice against No. 17 Arizona State to become the first Sooner to hit two home runs in one game since Caleigh Clifton against Texas Tech on May 12, 2017. Alo also homered against BYU.

Run in Polls Continues

After going 3-1 last week, OU remained at No. 4 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Coaches Poll and dropped one spot to a tie for No. 6 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. Oklahoma is the only program to be ranked every week of the NFCA poll, a run of 341 straight polls.

The Sooners opened their 2018 campaign as the preseason favorite in both the NFCA and USA Softball preseason polls, marking the second straight year that OU is ranked No. 1 in both. Prior to last year, OU had never entered a season with the top ranking in either poll. The Sooners also remained in the top spot in both polls after week one.

Overall, the Sooners rank third with 18 top-10 appearances in the NFCA preseason poll, trailing only Arizona (20) and UCLA (19). This marks the eighth straight year the Sooners have started in the NFCA’s top 10, good for the nation’s longest active streak.

Oklahoma also entered its 2018 campaign as the preseason pick to win the Big 12, as each of the other six head coaches placed the Sooners in the top spot (coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams).

This is the sixth straight year and ninth in the last 10 that OU has topped the Big 12’s preseason poll. OU received 36 points in this year’s poll and was followed by Baylor, which received the other first-place vote, at 31 points, Texas (24 points), Oklahoma State (23 points), Kansas (12 points), Iowa State (11 points) and Texas Tech (10 points).

Last Time Out

Oklahoma went 3-1 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Feb. 22-24. The Sooners took down No. 17 Arizona State, BYU, and North Carolina before falling to No. 13 Arizona. Additionally, OU faced the Japanese National Team in an exhibition matchup, tying 3-3.

The Sooners took down their first ranked opponent of the season on the first day of Mary Nutter, downing No. 17 Arizona State 7-2. Freshman Jocelyn Alo led OU at the plate with a 2-for-2 performance with two home runs, three RBI and two walks. Junior Sydney Romero matched a single-game career high with four RBI. Paige Parker threw a season-high 10 strikeouts over 5.1 innings.

Shay Knighten, Alo and Caleigh Clifton all homered as OU run-ruled BYU 10-0 on Friday night. Alo’s blast was her third of the weekend and fifth of the season while Knighten and Clifton both produced their first home runs of the year. The win, which came in six innings, was OU’s second run-rule victory of the season.

OU took down North Carolina 3-1 on Saturday morning. The Sooners were led at the plate by Romero, who put together a 3-for-4 performance with one RBI and one run scored thanks to her second home run of the season. Clifton and pinch hitter Vanessa Taukeiaho both drove in a run in the contest.

In the afternoon, the battle between two storied programs narrowly went No. 13 Arizona’s way as a two-run home run from the Wildcats’ Aleah Craighton in the second inning proved the difference maker.

This Weekend's Opponents

The Sooners hold an 18-12 advantage all-time over Missouri State. OU has won the past four meetings, most recently run-ruling the Bears twice in 2015 (10-0 in five innings, 11-0 in five innings).

The Bears are 8-6 this season. Missouri State cruised through the Louisiana Tech University Invitational Feb. 23-24, defeating South Dakota (13-3, five innings), UMass Lowell (2-1), Louisiana Tech (2-0) and Alcorn State (8-0, five innings). However, the Bears were most recently run-ruled by Arkansas 9-0 in a matchup on Wednesday, Feb. 28. 

In 2017, MSU went 23-26 with a 10-16 record in the Missouri Valley Conference.

This weekend marks the first meetings all-time between Oklahoma and Abilene Christian. So far this season, ACU is 4-7, dropping their last four contests. Most recently, the Wildcats were downed in a double-header with Baylor, 3-0 and 13-2 in five innings.

The Wildcats finished 2017 with a 33-22 record, including a 20-7 mark in Blue Sky Conference games. ACU qualified for the National Invitational Softball Championship last year, opening with 5-4 win over UT Arlington in nine innigns before being eliminated with losses to Lamar (6-1) and Louisiana Monroe (7-0).

Up Next

The Sooners continue their homestand on Feb. 7 as they host Saint Francis (PA) in a midweek contest at 6 p.m. CT. On March 9-11, the Sooners welcome Illinios State, Indiana and South Carolina for the OG&E Tournament. OU will face Illinois State on Friday at 2:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 4 p.m., Indiana on Friday at 5 p.m. and South Carolina on Saturday at 5 p.m. and on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. All six games are scheduled to be broadcast on Fox Sports Oklahoma.

In all-time meetings, OU holds a 4-1-1 advantage over Illinois State and a 9-2-1 lead over Indiana while trailing South Carolina 2-5. Additionally, Wednesday’s meeting with Saint Francis marks the first all-time between the two programs.

General admission tickets are available and can be ordered online or by calling (405) 325-2424 or toll-free at (800) 456-GoOU.