Road Swing Continues at Wichita State, ISU
NORMAN — The No. 1/1 Oklahoma softball team continues its 11-game road swing this week as it travels to games at Wichita State (Wednesday) and Iowa State (Friday-Sunday).
The Sooners have won a program-record-matching 31 straight games. With a win against the Shockers, OU would set a school record for consecutive victories.
All four games this week can be heard on the air through KEBC 1560 AM in Norman or online via the Franchise 2. Wednesday’s game will be streamed through YurView, and every game at Iowa State will be streamed online for a fee on Cyclones.tv.
LAST TIME OUT
The Sooners pushed their winning streak to 31 games with a three-game sweep of No. 11/10 Texas last weekend in Austin. The Sooners have now won 18 consecutive games in the Red River Rivalry.
Giselle Juarez pitched a gem in the series opening 3-1 win, striking out 10 in a complete-game performance. Sydney Romero drilled a two-run single in the top of the fifth, and Kylie Lundberg drove in an insurance run in the top of the seventh.
In its first extra-inning game of the year, the Sooners outlasted the Longhorns 4-3 in eight innings in game two. With the game tied at two at the start of the eighth, Caleigh Clifton hit a sacrifice fly to score Romero before Falepolima Aviu stole home to extend OU’s lead to two. The Longhorns put two runners on base with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. One scored on a throwing error, but Jocelyn Alo combined with catcher Lynnsie Elam to throw the second runner out at home to end the game and seal the win.
Grace Green and Alo both homered in the series finale, accounting for Oklahoma’s first five runs. The Sooners used a four-run seventh to seal the 9-2 win and the series sweep. Shannon Saile improved to 9-1 on the year with her second complete-game win of the season. She scattered four hits and surrendered two runs while striking out five over a season-high 7.0 innings.
THERE'S ONLY ONE OKLAHOMA
After sweeping No. 11/10 Texas on the road last week, the Sooners remained ranked No. 1 in both the USA Today/NFCA Division I Coaches Poll and the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 for the second week in a row. Oklahoma is the only program to be ranked every week of the NFCA poll all-time, a run of 363 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 (.367), fielding percentage (.987), on-base percentage (.456), runs per game (8.00), slugging percentage (.670) and win-loss percentage (.953).
With 31 straight wins, Oklahoma holds the longest active winning streak in Division I softball. The streak is tied for the most consecutive victories in program history, previously achieved from April 2, 2016 to June 7, 2016. It marks the third time in school annals that OU has strung together 30 straight wins and the seventh instance of 20 straight.
Oklahoma has also won 37 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.
The Sooners’ win over Texas on April 19 put the Sooners at 40-2 on the year, marking the fewest games played in order to reach 40 wins in program history. Previously, the 2013 and 2018 teams reached the milestone in 43 games.
Oklahoma is currently in the middle of an 11-game road swing that 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 54 of its last 55 true road contests, including 12 in 2019.
GREEN A TOP-25 FINALIST FOR FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Utility player Grace Green has been named one of 25 candidates for the 2019 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year. Green is one of just two freshmen from the Big 12 to be named a finalist for Freshman of the Year, joining Texas pitcher Shealyn O’Leary. This is the sixth season that the NFCA will name a Freshman of the Year; Oklahoma’s Paige Parker (2015) and Jocelyn Alo (2018) have both received the accolade.
In conference games this season, Green currently leads the Big 12 in on-base percentage (.585), slugging percentage (1.303), home runs (8), RBIs (23) and total bases (43) while ranking second in batting average (.515).
Overall, Green’s 2019 slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) is .432/.820/.515; her season batting average and on-base percentage both rank second on the team while her slugging percentage is third. She leads all Big 12 freshmen in the following offensive categories: batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, hits (48), home runs (13), runs scored (38), RBIs (43) and total bases (91).
JUAREZ EARNS SECOND STRAIGHT BIG 12 HONOR
For the fourth time this season and second week in a row, Giselle Juarez was named Big 12 Pitcher of the Week on Tuesday.
Juarez went 2-0 in two appearances (one start) on the road against No. 11/10 Texas. Last weekend, both her 7.64 strikeouts per seven innings pitched and 12 total strikeouts ranked second in the Big 12.
The Glendale, Ariz. native struck out 10 batters in the series opener, her sixth performance this season with double-digit strikeouts. Her 10 strikeouts were the most in a single game against the Longhorns this season. She threw all seven innings in the opener to earn her sixth complete-game showing of the year and second in conference play.
THIS WEEK'S OPPONENTS
The Sooners lead the all-time series against both Wichita State (48-7, 13-4 in Wichita) and Iowa State (81-28, 34-8 in Ames). OU has won 35 consecutive games against the Shockers and 33 straight against the Cyclones, standing as OU’s two longest winning streaks against any Division I opponents.
OU rallied to take down Wichita State 7-6 in last year’s matchup. The Sooners faced their biggest deficit of the season against the Shockers after WSU’s Laurie Derrico and Caitlin Bingham both hit three-run home runs in the top of the third. Sooner magic prevailed in the sixth inning as OU scored seven runs, including a three-run homer from Lea Wodach and the go-ahead two-run single from Jocelyn Alo.
The 2018 series against Iowa State was originally scheduled to take place in Ames but was moved to Norman due to snow and freezing temperatures. The Sooners swept the Cyclones in the regular season, closing the series with a 9-1 run-rule. They met again in pool play of the Big 12 Tournament with Oklahoma claiming a 9-6 win.