Red River Rivalry Begins Thursday in Austin
NORMAN — The No. 1/1 Oklahoma softball team heads to Austin, Texas, this week for a ranked Red River Rivalry matchup, facing off with No. 11/10 Texas Thursday-Saturday at McCombs Field.
All three games will be broadcast on the Longhorn Network and on the air via KEBC 1560 AM or online through the Franchise 2.
LAST TIME OUT
The Sooners opened their 11-game road swing with a three-game sweep at Kansas, outscoring the Jayhawks 23-0. It marked the first time OU has shut out a conference opponent in all three games since the Big 12 began playing three-game series in 2012.
In game one, Giselle Juarez recorded a one-hit shutout as the Sooners run-ruled Kansas 10-0 in six innings. Grace Green went 2-for-2 with two runs scored, three RBIs and a home run. Caleigh Clifton also homered in the contest, while Sydney Romero registered a pair of RBIs. As a team, OU drew a season-high 10 walks.
Mariah Lopez tossed a one-hitter of her own in game two, leading OU to a 5-0 win to seal the series. Romero finished 2-for-3 with one RBI and a walk while Shay Knighten registered a pair of RBIs that put the Sooners on the board.
Shannon Saile earned the win in game three as the OU offense tallied four home runs to claim an 8-0, six-inning win. Green homered twice while Romero and Clifton each recorded one home run apiece.
THERE'S ONLY ONE OKLAHOMA
The Sooners rose to the No. 1 ranking in both the USA Today/NFCA Division I Coaches Poll and the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. Oklahoma is the only program to be ranked every week of the NFCA poll all-time, a run of 362 straight polls.
Oklahoma earned its first NFCA No. 1 ranking after winning the 2000 national championship. It spent a school-record 11 straight weeks at No. 1 during the 2013 season, and also earned the designation after winning national titles in 2016 and 2017. The Sooners opened the 2017 and 2018 seasons as the No. 1 preseason team and were most recently ranked first by the NFCA Poll in week two of the 2018 season.
Speaking of No. 1, Oklahoma leads the nation in the following statistical categories: batting average (.374), earned run average (1.20), fielding percentage (.987), on-base percentage (.465), runs per game (8.20), shutouts (19), slugging percentage (.688) and win-loss percentage (.950).
With 28 consecutive wins, Oklahoma holds the longest active winning streak in Division I softball. The streak marks the seventh time in program history the Sooners have strung together 20 straight wins and is the fourth-longest winning streak in OU annals. The next longest streaks in Sooner records are 29 games (achieved in 2005), 30 games (2018) and 31 games (2016).
Oklahoma has also won 34 straight Big 12 games, marking an OU and a Big 12 record. Its last conference loss was to Baylor in Norman on April 23, 2017.
Oklahoma is currently in the middle of an 11-game road swing, which began last weekend at Kansas. The 11-game road trip marks the longest streak of true road games under 25th-year head coach Patty Gasso. In its program history, Oklahoma has only ever played more consecutive true road contests once, opening the 1981 season with 12 straight away games.
The Sooners will be road tested in 2019 with 38 of their 51 games being held on the road or at neutral sites. Oklahoma will play just 13 games at Marita Hynes Field in 2019. OU has played fewer regular season home games just three other times in the Gasso era: nine in 1997, 12 in 1996 and six in 1995.
Additionally, 13 home games is the third-lowest total in the country among major conference teams this season. Only Oregon State and Iowa have fewer, each scheduled to host 12 home games in 2019.
The Sooners are playing a road-heavy schedule primarily due to Big 12 scheduling. In 2018, the Sooners’ series against Iowa State was moved to Norman due to snow in Ames, Iowa. As a result, Oklahoma will travel to Ames in both 2019 and 2020 and will host just four conference games (Baylor series and one Bedlam contest) in Norman this year.
Oklahoma has shown to be up to the test, winning 51 of its last 52 true road contests, including nine in 2019.
THESE BATS ARE ON FIRE
Oklahoma’s offense leads the nation in batting average (.374), on-base percentage (.465), slugging percentage (.688) and runs per game (8.20) while ranking second in home runs per game (1.93).
The Sooners have scored at least eight runs in 16 of their last 19 games, reaching 10 runs in 11 of those contests. During their 28-game win streak, the Sooners have scored a total of 238 runs (8.5 per game) while only surrendering 24 (0.86 per game).
Overall, the Sooners have run-ruled 21 opponents and shut out 19 in 2019, outscoring foes 328-46. They have won 30 games by at least five runs and have multiple home runs in 23 games.
Historically, the Sooners’ offensive output ranks among the best in program history. Dating back to 2004, no other Sooner team has hit 77 home runs or earned 21 run-rules through 40 games, and only the 2015 squad had scored more runs (374) in that span. Additionally, if the season were to end at this point, the 2019 Sooners’ batting average and slugging percentage would both rank first in OU annals, while their on-base percentage would be second behind the 2015 team’s .473.
THREE SELECTED IN NPF DRAFT
Oklahoma softball senior infielders Sydney Romero, Caleigh Clifton and Shay Knighten were each selected in the National Pro Fastpitch League Draft on Monday night.
Romero was selected third overall by the USSSA Pride. She is the third Sooner to be selected in the first round in the last two years, joining 2018 draftees Paige Lowary and Paige Parker. Clifton was the ninth overall pick, drafted by the Chicago Bandits in the second round. Joining Romero on the USSSA Pride is Knighten, who was chosen as the 20th overall pick to close out the fourth round.
Three selections in the draft matches the second-most in one year in OU program history, also achieved in 2008 and 2018. In 2013, four Sooners were drafted.
The NPF College Draft featured five rounds of five selections for a total of 25 draftees in the 2019 rookie class. Due to NCAA regulations, an active college senior-athlete may not sign with her respective franchise until her 2019 college season is over.
JUAREZ, GREEN EARN BIG 12 WEEKLY HONORS
Giselle Juarez and Grace Green earned Big 12 weekly awards on Tuesday. Juarez was named Big 12 Pitcher of the Week for the third time this season. Green was tabbed Big 12 Co-Player of the Week for her second career conference accolade, sharing the honor with Oklahoma State’s Rylee Bayless.
Juarez went 1-0 in two appearances (one start) at Kansas, finishing with a perfect 0.00 ERA. She led the Big 12 with 13.00 strikeouts per seven innings pitched, ranking second overall with 13 total strikeouts. Juarez allowed just one hit over seven innings pitched last week, totaling a .045 opponent batting average that ranked second in the league.
In the series opener, Juarez registered her second shutout of the year and first in conference play. She struck out 11 batters, matching the highest single-game total by a Big 12 pitcher in a conference game this season. It also marked her fifth game of the season with double-digit strikeouts.
Green started all three games at Kansas, finishing 5-for-7 at the plate. Four of her hits were for extra bases, including three home runs and a double, helping Green lead the Big 12 with a 2.143 slugging percentage and 15 total bases.
A product of Oakdale, Calif., Green tied for the conference lead with three home runs and five runs scored last week while ranking second with seven RBIs and four walks. In the series finale, Green recorded the second game of her season with multiple home runs.
Oklahoma leads the all-time softball Red River Rivalry 42-24, including a 14-9 mark in Austin. The Sooners have won the last 15 meetings and the last six conference series (2012-2017). In 2011, OU and Texas split a two-game series, and the series in 2010 was canceled. Texas last won a series against the Sooners in 2009 when the Longhorns won both games in Austin.
This week marks the first time since 2013 the rivals have met while both ranked by the NFCA. All-time, Texas holds a 19-13 advantage over Oklahoma when both teams are ranked.
The 2013 series was also the only time the two teams met when either was ranked No. 1 (Oklahoma the nation’s top team entering that series). The Sooners claimed the series against the No. 6 Longhorns, 2-1.
OU’s 15 consecutive wins against UT is the longest winning streak by either team in the all-time Red River Rivalry. In 2018, the Sooners swept the Longhorns in Norman, sealing the weekend with a 5-4, walk-off win in the eighth inning. Oklahoma then run-ruled Texas 10-1 in six innings during pool play of the 2018 Big 12 Tournament.