Sooners and Wildcats Clash in Supers
NORMAN — The top-seeded Oklahoma softball team (52-3, 18-0 Big 12) looks to make its 13th Women’s College World Series appearance as it hosts No. 16 seed Northwestern (47-11, 21-2 Big Ten) in an NCAA Super Regional at Marita Hynes Field this weekend.
The best-of-three series begins Friday at 2 p.m. CT. Saturday’s contest is scheduled for a 3 p.m. CT first pitch, and if necessary, Sunday’s game will begin at 1 p.m. CT.
Friday’s game will air on ESPN2, and Saturday and Sunday’s contests are scheduled to be on ESPN. Every game can be heard on the air via KEBC 1560 AM in Norman or online through the Franchise 2.
Tickets for the NCAA Norman Super Regional are sold out.
In addition to the parking lot at the OU Softball Complex, the Timberdell Road Parking Facility will be open for fans. The multi-story parking garage is located just one block north of the softball facility.
OU Athletics introduced a clear bag policy and walk-through metal detectors at all home events this season. More information can be found here.
This season marks Oklahoma’s 26th consecutive appearance in the NCAA postseason, including all 25 years under head coach Patty Gasso. Only Arizona is on a longer streak (33 straight), while the Sooners are tied with Washington for second-longest run.
Oklahoma is making its 13th overall appearance in the Super Regionals since the format was introduced in 2005. Only Alabama (15) and Arizona (14) been to more Supers, and Washington is also making its 13th showing. The Sooners have made each of the last 10 Super Regionals, the second-longest active streak behind Alabama’s 15.
This is the seventh time that OU hosts Supers. At home, OU is 10-3 in Super Regional play. When hosting Supers, the Sooners have reached the WCWS five times (2012, ’13, ’14, ’16, ’18) and have only had a season end in a Norman Super Regional once (2007).
With two wins in the Super Regional, the Sooners would make their 13th appearance all-time in the Women’s College World Series and eighth trip in the last nine years. No other program in the country has made as many trips to the WCWS as OU since the 2011 season.
THERE'S ONLY ONE OKLAHOMA
For the second time in program history, the Sooners entered the NCAA Softball Tournament as the No. 1 seed. The feat was also accomplished in 2013, when OU went on to earn its second national championship.
In the final polls of the 2019 season, 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 fifth week in a row. Oklahoma is the only program to be ranked every week of the NFCA poll all-time, a run of 366 straight polls.
Speaking of No. 1, Oklahoma leads the nation in the following statistical categories: batting average (.359), earned run average (1.10), fielding percentage (.98), home runs per game (1.87), on-base percentage (.449), shutouts (26), slugging percentage (.661), strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.01) and win-loss percentage (.945).
The Sooners and the Wildcats have already met twice in 2019 as Northwestern traveled to Norman in March for OU’s second home tournament. The Sooners won both meetings, 7-0 (March 8) and 8-0 in five innings (March 10).
In game one, Grace Lyons, Sydney Romero, Shay Knighten and Kylie Lundberg all homered as Giselle Juarez and Shannon Saile combined on the shutout. In the rematch, Falepolima Aviu went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and a home run; Lyons and Lynnsie Elam also went yard. Juarez combined with Nicole Mendes for the shutout.
Northwestern assistant coach Michelle Gascoigne is an OU alumna. A teammate of OU volunteer assistant Keilani Ricketts, Gascoigne played at OU from 2010-13 and earned All-Region and All-Big 12 honors during her senior year. She was the winning pitcher in OU’s 2013 national title game against Tennessee, striking out 12 batters and allowing just three hits while walking none in her ninth shutout of the year.
The Oklahoma pitching staff is proving to be one of the best in the country in 2019, currently leading Division I softball in ERA (1.10), shutouts (26) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.01).
All three primary pitchers are ranked in the top 10 nationally in ERA. Mariah Lopez ranks fourth (1.04), Shannon Saile is eighth (1.14), and Giselle Juarez sits in 10th (1.15).
Saile, Juarez and Lopez rank 1-2-3 in the Big 12, respectively, in strikeouts per seven innings pitched. Nationally, Saile (11.4 K/7 IP) holds second, Juarez (10.4) is fourth and Lopez (9.8) is eighth.
The Sooner pitchers have taken on a “pitching staff by committee” approach in 2019, sharing time in the circle. This was exemplified in OU’s NCAA Tournament opener against UMBC as Juarez, Lopez and Saile recorded a perfect game, the first combined perfect game in program history. Juarez followed with a no-hitter against Wisconsin on Saturday, marking the first time in program history OU recorded multiple no-hitters during the NCAA Tournament.
ROMERO ONE OF THREE FINALISTS FOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Sydney Romero has been named one of three finalists for the 2019 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, USA Softball announced Thursday.
Romero is one of the top offensive producers in the country this season. She currently ranks fourth nationally in total bases (154) and sacrifice flies (six), 11th in hits (79), 15th in runs per game (1.07), 16th in slugging percentage (.837), 19th in toughest to strikeout (27.9 at-bats per strikeout), 20th in batting average (.429) and 21st in home runs (18).
The 2019 Big 12 Player of the Year, Romero leads all active Division I players with 309 career hits and 826 career at-bats. She ranks second with 536 career total bases and fourth with 220 runs scored and 211 RBIs.
Last weekend, Romero made her 817th career at-bat to set the OU career record (she now has 826). The senior also tied the program record with her 13th career sacrifice fly on Sunday. She is on the verge of breaking three other OU career records, ranking second in the following career categories: hits (309), doubles (55) and total bases (527).
Romero joins UCLA's Rachel Garcia and James Madison's Megan Good as the finalists for the most prestigious honor in Division I women's collegiate softball. The 2019 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be revealed May 28.
HISTORIC WIN STREAK ENDS AT 41
Oklahoma won 41 consecutive games from Feb. 23 to May 19, marking the longest single-season winning streak in NCAA Division I softball history and the second-longest run all-time (Arizona won 47 straight from April 5, 1996-March 23, 1997).
The Oklahoma school record was broken on April 24 as the Sooners took down Wichita State to claim their 32nd straight win.
With an 18-0 record in 2019 conference play, Oklahoma pushed its Big 12 regular season winning streak to 43 straight games, marking an OU and a Big 12 record. Its last conference loss was to Baylor in Norman on April 23, 2017.
Propelled by the streak, Oklahoma finished the regular season at 48-2, good for the best 50-game record in program history. Its 0.96 regular season winning percentage is also the best in school annals.
OU was undefeated in both March (19-0) and April (13-0). Under 25th-year head coach Patty Gasso, the Sooners have only gone undefeated throughout an entire month seven times, excluding June, and they have never done so twice in one season. The feat was also accomplished in March 2018, May 2016, February 2013, February 2007 and April 2001.