Women's College World Series Preview: OU, Alabama Meet Again


Thursday, June 2nd 2016, 5:16 pm
By: News On 6


Winners of five straight Big 12 titles and its past 27 games, Oklahoma earned the No. 3 overall seed in the 2016 NCAA Division I Softball Championship. OU has been a national seed each of the last 10 seasons and is a top-3 seed for the third time since the Super Regional was introduced in 2005.

Advancing out of the Norman Super Regional, OU faces No. 6 Alabama Thursday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2 in the Women’s College World Series. In their second game of the double elimination tournament, the Sooners will face either No. 2 Michigan (51-5) or No. 10 LSU (50-16).

A win over Alabama would have OU play on Friday night at 8:30, while a loss would see Oklahoma play its second game of the WCWS Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

Fans can listen to the game on KEBC 1560 in Norman or online via link above.

Against the NCAA Tournament field this year, the Sooners were an impressive 20-6 (.769) during the regular season.

World Series Experience

Oklahoma is making its 10th overall appearance at the Women’s College World Series and its fifth trip in the last six years. Alabama is the only other team in the country to make five trips to the WCWS since the 2011 season.

The Sooners are 17-14 all-time in the Women's College World Series, ranking eighth in NCAA history in WCWS win percentage (.548) and ninth in WCWS wins and appearances (10).

OU made its first trip to the WCWS in 2000, winning its first national title. OU then made it each of the next four years from 2001-04. After a six-year absence, the Sooners returned to the World Series in 2011, starting a run of four straight trips, including the 2013 national championship season.

Against the WCWS Field

Each of the eight WCWS teams has played at least three games against the rest of the field. With wins over Alabama and UCLA, and a loss to Michigan, OU ranks third in win percentage among World Series teams.

In addition, Oklahoma has the top batting average (.360) of the WCWS teams, is second in slugging (.533) and is third in on-base percentage (.433). OU is fourth in team ERA (2.14) and No. 1 in fielding percentage (.985)

Facing Alabama

Oklahoma trails the all-time series against Alabama 5-9 (.357), including a 4-7 mark at neutral sites. OU is 2-3 against the Crimson Tide in World Series games.

OU and Alabama have met in three of the last four seasons, and all but one of those games have either been in the WCWS or Super Regionals. In fact, prior to meeting earlier this year, the teams had not met in the regular season since 2009.

In 2012, the Crimson Tide beat OU, 2-1, in a best-of-three series to win the national championship. Two years later, the teams met in the opening game of the WCWS where Alabama won, 6-2. Last season, OU won the first game of the Super Regionals in Tuscaloosa, but Alabama came back to win the next two games and end OU’s season.

Last Time They Met

Shay Knighten’s two-run, walk-off home run was the only offense then-No. 13/14 Oklahoma needed in a 2-0 win over then-No. 6/6 Alabama at the Easton Tournament in Fullerton Calif., on March 19.

Paige Parker struck out five with no walks and just two hits allowed as she retired the final nine batters she faced. Alabama’s Alexis Osorio took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and struck out 13, including a run of 11 straight strikeouts from the second inning through the fifth. She finished with two hits allowed, two walks and two runs given up.

In the seventh, Sydney Romero broke up Osorio’s no-hitter to lead off the seventh with a single, and two batters later Knighten pulled a 1-2 pitch over the fence in left-center.

Postseason History

Oklahoma is making its 23rd postseason appearance overall which is tied for 12th most in NCAA history. In addition, OU owns the fourth-best win percentage (.686) all-time and is fifth all-time in postseason wins (94-43).

The Sooners have reached the postseason in each of the past 23 seasons. Only Arizona is currently on a longer active streak.

Sooners Enter Supers on 27-Game Win Streak

OU has not lost a game since a 5-2 setback to Kansas on April 2, a streak of 25 games. It’s the second longest in program annals behind the program record of 29 games in 2005.

According to the NCAA record book, the 27-game win streak is tied for the 23rd longest in history and is the longest since Florida won 29 in a row from April 1 to June 1 in 2009.

During the current streak, OU has six top-25 wins, 10 shutouts and six run-rules. The Sooners are 15-0 at home, 10-0 on the road and 2-0 at neutral sites. Fifteen of the wins have been against the Big 12 and 12 have been non-conference. Here’s a stat breakdown during the streak.

The 27-game streak is the longest active run in the country. In fact, Oklahoma has won 34 of its past 35 contests dating back to March 19. From that point through Super Regionals, no team has a better win percentage in the country than OU.

During the streak, Erin Miller leads the team with a .422 batting average and .644 slugging percentage and also has the most runs (28), hits (38) and doubles (11) on the squad. Nicole Pendley has a team-high five home runs, while Shay Knighten has a team-best 27 RBI and Caleigh Clifton leads OU with 23 walks, six stolen bases and a .573 on-base percentage.

The pitching staff has a remarkable 1.18 ERA during the streak, led by Paige Parker who has a 1.21 ERA, 139 strikeouts and an opponents' batting average of .188 in 127.1 innings.

Additionally, the defense has made just nine errors in 635 chances for a fielding percentage of .987.

Sooners' Defense Playing at Historic Level

With just 23 errors in 1517 chances, Oklahoma leads the nation with a .985 fielding percentage. OU’s figure would shatter the school record (.979 in 1999), set a new Big 12 standard (.983 by Texas A&M in 2008) and go down as No. 3 in NCAA history (see page 7).

The 23 errors are the fewest in the nation. The Sooners have been error-free in 38 of 59 games and have only had two multi-error performances on the season.

The numbers are even more impressive when considering the usual starting infield since April 1 has consisted of three true freshmen and a sophomore.

Quick Hits

Every one of Oklahoma’s main offensive starters has a batting average of at least .333 and an OBP of at least .391, and eight of the nine are slugging at least .481 ... Oklahoma is hitting at least .349 in every inning except the fourth (.289) ... OU is outscoring teams 143-16 over the first two innings this year and has given up just one run in either of the first two frames since March 30, a streak of 29 games

Kady Self has a team-best .462 average in postseason games, while Kelsey Arnoldleads OU with a .426 mark in non-conference games and a .490 average at neutral sites ... Erin Miller leads the team in multi-hit games (27) and the team is 34-1 with her in the leadoff spot ... a lefty herself, Miller is hitting .652 (15-23) against LHP this year ...Paige Parker has a 1.62 ERA against non-conference foes and has a win in 23 straight appearances ... Caleigh Clifton is averaging a team-best 4.2 pitchers per plate appearance and leads OU with a 1.180 OPS (on-base + slugging)

Through 5/29, Paige Parker is seventh among active pitchers in career ERA (1.60; min. 200 IP), 10th in shutouts (22), 17th in K/7 (7.56; min. 400 IP), 28th in wins (61) and 46th in strikeouts (468) ... Erin Miller is 25th among active NCAA players with 11 career triples ... Kelsey Stevens is 14th among active pitchers in games started (110), 15th in career victories (71) and K/7 (7.67; min. 400 IP), 21st in appearances (140), 22nd in strikeouts (617) and 50th in innings pitched (563.3)

Playing in Oklahoma City

With regular season wins over UMKC and Oklahoma State at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, the Sooners are now 81-40 (.669) under head coach Patty Gasso when playing in Oklahoma City.

The Sooners did not play in Oklahoma City last season, marking the first time since 1994 that OU didn't play at least one game there, whether in the regular season or postseason.