Let’s be honest, things were a little too easy for Oklahoma Softball. Going into last weekend’s Mary Nutter Classic OU had defeated eight of ten opponents by run-rule. It was a similar result through the first three games of the Mary Nutter as the Sooners downed Cal State-Fullerton (10-0), Long Beach State (11-3), and #8 Arizona (10-2). Then the unthinkable happened #18 Tennessee put Oklahoma against the ropes. The Vols held an 8-7 lead over the Sooners with two outs, and a runner on, in the bottom of the 10th. That’s when Jayda Coleman stepped to the plate and kept OU perfect.
A day later it was Utah who pushed Oklahoma to the brink with the Sooners edging out the Utes 2-1 in a pitcher’s duel. That’s back-to-back wins by just a single run after thirteen games of complete dominance. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect though because OU is heading into an eight day stretch without playing. The Sooners don’t play again until they host Minnesota for their home opener on March 7th. That’s a long time for the best team in the country to sit on the knowledge that they were just a combined two runs better than their last two opponents. Perhaps that’s just what they needed though. Time to refocus.
Even after getting pushed in the last two outings, you’re not going to find anyone questioning just how good this Sooner squad is and what they’re capable of. That said, the Sooners needed some pressure. They needed an at bat when they are down by one with two outs and the game is on the line. They needed to have a pitcher in the circle protecting a one-run lead in the late innings of a game. They needed to do all of that in February because conference play begins in March and they don’t want to wait until Big 12 standings are on the line to feel some pressure. Getting pushed to the brink in February will make them a better team in March and that’s where the journey back to the Women’s College World series really begins.
The Best Pitchers And Hitters Are In Norman
Oklahoma’s .378 batting average is the best in the Big 12. Baylor is second at .323 and Iowa State is the only other team in the conference batting above three hundred at .307. The Sooners have launched 40 home runs this season which is more than twice as many as the Cyclones who are second in the conference with 17. OU has also knocked in a Big 12 best 125 RBI.
Tiare Jennings leads the Big 12 with nine home runs. She’s also recorded a conference best 22 runs scored.
From the circle Oklahoma’s pitching staff boasts a 0.64 ERA. Iowa State is the second closest with a 2.60 ERA, with Oklahoma State (2.63) and Texas Tech (2.98) rounding out the schools with an ERA below 3.00. The Sooner pitching staff is a perfect 15-0 on the season and has recorded 142 strikeouts while allowing just 41 total hits.
Hope Trautwein (4-0) has the lowest ERA in the conference at 0.30. Freshman Jordy Bahl is second in the conference in strikeouts at 65. She trails Oklahoma State’s Kelly Maxwell who has fanned 67 batters this season.
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