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Oklahoma Sooners Softball - Norman Regional Preview: Gasso, OU look to take care of business

Oklahoma will begin its NCAA Tournament run this evening against UMBC.

Texas Longhorns At Oklahoma Sooners Softball | Game 3 Gallery

The Oklahoma Sooners are the NCAA Softball Tournament’s No. 1 overall seed for just the second time in program history, and this weekend, the road to OKC begins in Norman. Joining OU in its regional are Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Maryland-Baltimore County.

On Thursday, head coach Patty Gasso, seniors Sydney Romero and Caleigh Clifton as well as junior pitcher Giselle Juarez fielded questions at a press conference ahead of this weekend’s regional action. Video Credit: Sooner Sports TV. (Note: This video isn’t available in the body on Google AMP or Apple News. However, it can still be viewed here on any platform).

Each phase of the tournament features a double-elimination format. The first game of the Norman Softball Regional will be between the Fighting Irish and the Badgers, followed by OU’s bout with UMBC. Below are the viewing and streaming details for the Sooners’ opening regional contest.

Oklahoma Sooners (49-2, 18-0 Big 12) vs. UMBC Retrievers (30-22, 7-11 America East): Friday, May 17 at 8:30 p.m. CT (Marita Hynes Field in Norman, OK)

TV: ESPN2

Commentary: Pam Ward and Jenny Dalton-Hill

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Radio: KEBC 1560 AM, 107.7 FM

About UMBC

  • After winning the America East Conference, UMBC is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002.
  • The Retrievers found a much-needed spark behind the surging arm of freshman pitcher Courtney Coppersmith. During the regular season, Coppersmith became the first player to earn both Rookie and Pitcher of the Year conference honors. In the AEC Championship, she pitched four consecutive complete games en route to a 4-0 record (including three shutouts) and was honored as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
  • In first-year head coach Chris Kuhlmeyer’s inaugural season, UMBC has done most of their winning in low-scoring pitching contests, as the Retrievers rank 146th in the nation in runs scored per game (4.35). Compare that to Oklahoma, who ranks second nationally with 7.98 runs per game. If a monumental upset is going to happen for the AEC champs, the Sooners’ bats will have to be ice cold for seven innings.

OU Storylines

  • After a heart-breaking defeat in the 2018 Women’s College World Series, top-ranked Oklahoma has been a team on a mission to return to Oklahoma City and claim the sport’s ultimate prize. Even after having to replace major pieces like Paige Lowary, Paige Parker and pitching coach Melyssa Lombardi, Big 12 Coach of the Year Patty Gasso may have the strongest team she’s fielded in 25 years from top to bottom. This 2019 squad features the Big 12’s Player of the Year in Sydney Romero, Pitcher of the Year in Giselle Juarez, Defensive Player of the Year in Caleigh Clifton, and Freshman of the Year in Grace Green.
  • Not only do the Sooners boast outstanding individuals, as a team, they’ve topped the charts in practically every major statistical category. Coming into the NCAA Tournament, Oklahoma is No. 1 in the nation in batting average, ERA, fielding percentage, home runs per game, on-base percentage, shutouts, slugging, strikeout-to-walk ratio and win-loss percentage.
  • Oklahoma is also riding an NCAA single-season record 39-game winning streak into the postseason. If that wasn’t impressive enough, the Sooners have been even more consistent at home, winning 47 consecutive games at Marita Hynes Field dating back to the 2017 regionals in Norman.
  • The Sooners have now qualified for the NCAA Softball Tournament in each of the last 26 seasons, which is tied for the second-longest active streak in the nation (Arizona at 32). This is also the ninth year in a row Oklahoma has hosted a regional.

The winner of OU’s game versus UMBC will face off against the winner between Notre Dame and Wisconsin in the first of three games on Saturday. The losing teams from Friday’s games will take the field after that in an elimination game. To cap off the night, the loser from Saturday’s Game 1 and winner of Saturday’s Game 2 will play in another elimination game to determine who the final two teams will be going into Sunday. The winner of the Norman Regional will play whichever team comes out of the Evanston Regional, hosted by Northwestern.

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