The casual softball fan was introduced to the “River” on Friday. Just in case though, the River runs between each edge of the plate and connects to the white chalk line of the batter’s box on each side. This became a serious point of contention in the opener of the Norman Super Regional. Washington thought that it was too close to home plate and Oklahoma didn’t really care as they beat the Huskies 4-2 to open the series.
Let’s think about this for a minute. Gabbie Plain is one of the best pitchers in the nation. We’re led to believe that the All-American struggled with control in Friday’s Norman Super Regional opener due to the chalk line being too close to home plate. For real! That’s the excuse. An experienced All-American pitcher, who is also a Player of the Year candidate, couldn’t find the zone because the “chalk wasn’t right” but Nicole May, a true freshman, went the distance from the circle with no problems in Oklahoma’s win. Yet, the story after game one isn’t on Nicole May, who allowed two runs and struck out five batters, it’s on the batter’s box.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, really,” Gasso said when asked about the controversy after the game. “I got word of it as I was walking in here. I don’t even [know]. I never heard it, never felt it. So I don’t know what they’re talking about. I really don’t. And we never would do anything purposely to disrupt anything. But both pitchers are dealing with the same thing. It’s not like it’s an advantage for us over them. But I really have no idea what’s going on. I really didn’t, so until the game was over. That’s the first I heard of it.”
This comes down to Nicole May outpitching Gabbie Plain and the softball world needing a method to excuse it. That’s the only logical explanation here. May and Plain each faced 27 batters. May struck out five and Plain struck out two. Plain pegged three batters and May none. Plain walked one and May none. Plain was in the circle for four runs scored and May for two. Regardless of how close the chalk was or was not to home plate, Nicole was the best pitcher to take the circle at the Norman Regional on Friday.
“Full faith,” (In Nicole May) Gasso said after the game. “I mean, if we didn’t, I would never have done it. But Coach Rocha, Jen Rocha has felt very solid about Nicole May and her competitive spirit. And her stuff’s been really good, and she’s been in these big moments, and we weren’t afraid of it. And we thought that it would be a good way to get started, and she made it the right decision, definitely.”
The rise of Nicole May in this pitching staff has to be a scary site to the rest of the field competing to get to the Women’s College World Series. It isn’t always the hitting that earns you a championship, it’s a deep and dominant pitching staff as well. Now Oklahoma has both of those things, pairing the likes of May, “G” Juarez and Shannon Sail with the best power hitting offense in the nation. That brings me to my final point, the Sooners want to hit Plain and not get hit by her.
“No, 100% no,” Gasso said when asked if her team was crowding the plate in order to get pegged. “We’re not a team that wants to get hit by pitches. We are a team that wants to hit. So, there was no game plan for that. There was no talk about it whatsoever. So, I really don’t—I can’t even answer because I don’t even know what the batter’s box looked like. I just anticipated that it looks the way it always looks. So I really still don’t know what anyone is talking about. I haven’t seen it. And I would imagine that if an umpire would recognize that, if it’s something out of the ordinary, that he would say something about it. So, I thought that she was upset more because we were [out there], maybe our arms were in the river. So I don’t know. I do not know that. So, I guess I’ll find out. I guess we’ve got to look into it. But we had absolutely nothing to do with any of that, to be honest.”
I’m all for conspiracy theories but the at least need to be somewhat believable to really earn my attention. This one isn’t. Oklahoma is the home team. Oklahoma is the top seed. Oklahoma is the favorite. Oklahoma is the better team. The Sooners aren’t going to change the structure of their power hitting strategy that got them to where they are. If someone seriously thinks that the team that powered past the likes of Oklahoma State and Texas is going to suddenly change everything because the 16-seed Huskies are in town then they really don’t know softball at all.
Now, any U-Dub fans out there want to talk about Gabby Plain’s crow hopping on just about every single pitch? I didn’t think so?
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