Oklahoma came into the 2022 softball season ranked #1 in the nation but still surrounded by some questions. Could the offense keep the torrid pace that they had in 2021? Would they be able to fill the void left by graduations for G Juarez and Shannon Saile. Would a new leader step up after Nicole Mendes exhausted her eligibility? Would this team still be as hungry as they were a season after the Covid Pandemic shut them down in 2020? After the opening weekend of the season we can emphatically say that the answers are – yes, yes, yes, and yes!
A lot of people though this team was going to be really good but they just wowed everyone on the California trip to open the season. Five teams stepped up and tried to compete with the Sooners and five teams failed. OU did it all over the weekend! They hit for power and they hit for average. They played great defense and they dominated from the circle. Altogether the Sooners dominated their five weekend opponents by a combined score of 41-1. Three of Oklahoma’s five games ended early by way of the run-rule and four of the five victories included a shutout performance by OU’s pitching staff. The only team to touch home plate against the Sooners over the weekend was #3 UCLA who fell by a final score of 4-1, thanks in part to a 14-strikeout performance from freshman pitcher Jordyn Bahl.
|Oklahoma Softball Opening Weekend Results|
|UC Santa Barbara||W||14-0 (5)|
|Mississippi State||W||9-0 (5)|
|UC San Diego||W||9-0 (5)|
The marquee matchup of the weekend was the Sooners against the Bruins Saturday evening at the Mark Campbell Invitational in Irvine, California. Bahl fanned 14 UCLA batters, allowing just four hits and three walks. It was the most strikeouts by a Sooners hurler since Juarez sat down 16 batters against Wisconsin in the 2019 Norman Regional. Oklahoma’s offense was sparked by timely hits from seniors Jana Johns, Taylon Snow, Lynnsie Elam, and junior Mackenzie Donihoo.
It was an early season Clash of the Titans type game that would show each storied program where they stood at the beginning of the season. It turned out that Oklahoma is standing tall, and on very solid ground, as it looks to defend its title in 2022. After five games, the Sooners lead the Big 12 in batting average (.360), home runs (10), runs scored (41), and RBI (36). From the circle, Oklahoma has the best ERA in the conference 0.00. They’ve given up the fewest hits in the Big 12 (12) and the lone run scored against them is the lowest in the conference as well. OU is tied with Oklahoma State for the most strikeouts in the conference, at 51, but the Sooners have done so by facing 26 fewer batters than the Cowgirls. Greater than 50% of the batters who faced Oklahoma pitching over the weekend ended up striking out. The Sooners boast the lowest opponent batting average in the conference at just .125.
Individually, Kinzie Hansen leads the conference in doubles (3) and Tiare Jennings is #1 in home runs (4) and total bases (17). Jordyn Bahl, Nicole May, and Hope Trautwein exited the week as the top three pitchers in the Big 12. May only pitched 5.1 innings but ended up with 11 strikeouts and a 1-0 record. Bahl and Trautwein both went 2-0 over the weekend with Bahl fanning 24 batters and Trautwein sitting down 16. All three pitchers are returning to Norman with a perfect 0.00 ERA.
We’re still a long way off from the second of June when the 2022 Women’s College World Series gets underway but things are looking positive for the Sooners. If you thought that this team was going to be good then you were wrong. They’re going to be scary good!!!
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