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Alabama Softball Women’s College World Series Preview: Bama vs. Oklahoma

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The Crimson Tide will face the top-seeded Sooners in round one.

@AlabamaSB

There are some really screwy things about the Women’s College World Series. First off (as Josh Chatham mentioned in Monday’s Jumbo Package) is the outmoded seeding format that should be reseeded once they get to the WCWS. Another issue is the location of the WCWS - Oklahoma City. How nice it must be for the Sooners to roll out of bed and drive 20 miles down the road to the ballpark. The poor Cowgirls of Okie State have to drive a whole hour to get there. Yeehaw for tradition, but how about moving the location around like football, basketball, and basically every other college sport not played on a diamond does?

But I digress. Below is the bracket for this year’s series:

As you can see from the bracket above, due to the insulting 8-seed tagged on Alabama, they must face the top-seeded Oklahoma Sooners in the first round in front of what will likely be a Sooners-heavy crowd. The winner of that game will meet the winner of Florida and Okie Lite. The losers face each other as well with the defeated team being eliminated.

SOONERS STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

Oklahoma has been steamrolling teams all season, but they may not be quite the behemoth everyone makes them out to be. For all the criticism Alabama received for their non-conference schedule, the Sooners’ out-of-conference schedule was not much better. Of the final 8 remaining teams, Okie played two of them and barely split them. The results were a 7-1 loss to UCLA and a narrow 2-1 victory over Arizona who had just lost at home to the Tide by a score of 6-1 seven days prior. Both of those games were played in Palm Springs, California.

The Sooners only other semi-difficult OOC games were both played in Clearwater, FL. The results were a 9-1 win over Kentucky (the only SEC team OU played all season) and a 7-4 loss to FSU. Neither of these foes survived the Super Regionals.

In Big XII play, Oklahoma went 18-0 including sweeps of Oklahoma State and Texas, but the rest of the conference is rather weak. Big XII Tournament was cancelled after one round due to rain and poor field conditions at the very same Oklahoma City stadium that will host the WCWS. How convenient that must have been to get that break just before the NCAA tournament...

In the post-season, Boomer Sooner struggled a little bit to put away feisty Wisconsin in the Norman Regional (W 4-0, L 2-1, W 2-0). They then overwhelmed an in-over-their-heads Northwestern team (W 3-0, W 8-0).

All that said, this is a balanced, fundamentally fit, and scary team. They have a .355 batting average as a team. For the Crimson Tide, only Bailey Hemphill has a batting average higher than that number. The Sooners are number one in the nation in team batting average, home runs, on base %, slugging %, fielding, ERA, Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio, and of course wins. About the only thing they don’t dominate is stealing bases. OU is 58-71 (81.7%) while the Tide is an outstanding 140-154 with the highest steal percentage in the nation (90.9%).

SOONERS ROSTER

The Sooners have eight players from California, six from Oklahoma, two each from Arizona, Florida & Texas, and one from Hawaii.

OFFENSE

The offense has some boffo stats led by All-American Sydney Romero (.435, 19 HR, 54 RBI). She has struck out only EIGHT times in 191 at bats this season. Romero set a school record for career doubles last weekend with 57.

Right behind her is Caleigh Clifton (.419, 17 HR, 49 RBI), Jocelyn Alo (.392, 15 HR, 50 RBI), and Grace Green (.388, 16 HR, 53 RBI, 10-12 SB).

DEFENSE

Oklahoma leads the nation in the lowest number of errors with an astounding total of 17. In second place, Florida has 22. Washington has 33. For the record, Alabama has 50.

PITCHING

The Sooners have three very good pitchers with left-hander Giselle Juarez being the ace. Facing the rare southpaw is going to be a big challenge for the Crimson Tide.

PLAYER APP GS W L SV CG IP H R ER BB K K/7 HR ERA
Giselle Juarez 33 26 26 1 0 12 153.1 69 27 24 31 229 10.45 10 1.10
Mariah Lopez 27 21 18 1 0 8 112 57 20 16 25 155 9.69 3 1.00
Shannon Saile 27 10 10 1 4 3 76 38 12 12 16 123 11.33 6 1.11

COACH

The legendary Patty Gasso is in her 25th season in Norman. Her record is 1257-330-2. Her teams have been to every NCAA Tournament and won four World Series. She is 6-9 all-time against Alabama.

THURSDAY GAMES

#6 Arizona 3, #3 Washington 1 - F
#2 UCLA 7, #7 Minnesota 2 - F
#13 Oklahoma State 1, #5 Florida 0 - 1st, ESPN2
#8 Alabama vs #1 Oklahoma 8:30pm CT ESPN2

As always, all Bama games can be heard on 93.3 FM as well.