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Sizing up Norman Regional field: Can anyone give OU trouble?

Bob Przybyloby:Bob Przybylo05/15/24


Sooners Softball: No.2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament

It’s not the No. 1 overall seed, but it’s the next closest thing for OU softball. The Sooners begin the postseason as No. 2 overall in their quest for a ridiculous fourth straight national championship.

That means it’s time to head back to Love’s Field for the Norman Regional this weekend. It will be the first regional ever at Love’s Field, which should add just a little more juice.

“Craziness, which is fun,” said head coach Patty Gasso about what she expects. “I don’t know, that’s what we like to play in front of, loud, and the goal here is to play our best at Love’s Field, and I don’t think we’ve done that yet. But we’re on the track to do that, and that’s how we’re gonna get back here, is to play our best at Love’s Field.”

OU is the top seed this weekend, joined by No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Boston University and No. 4 Cleveland State.

Oregon and Boston begin the weekend 4:30 p.m. Friday, followed by OU and Cleveland State matching up at 7. The winners of each game play each other 2 p.m. Saturday.

It is a double-elimination setup this weekend.

Sizing up the field

No. 2 Oregon (28-19 overall, 13-10 Pac-12)

Leading hitters: Kai Luschar (.423 avg., 46 runs, 27 stolen bases); Ariel Carlson (15 HRs).

Leading pitcher: Elise Sokolsky (8-3, 2.41 ERA, 72.2 innings pitched, 63 Ks).

Quick hits: A reunion across the board. Head coach Melyssa Lombardi played at OU in the 1990s and was on Gasso’s staff from 1997-2018 before taking over at Oregon. Assistant coach Sydney Romero was a star for OU from 2016-19 and was a graduate assistant at OU to begin her coaching career. OU star Alyssa Brito began her career with the Ducks.

No. 3 Boston (52-4-1, 18-0 Patriot League)

Leading hitter: Lauren Keleher (.407 avg., 52 runs, eight HRs)

Leading pitcher: Kasey Ricard (27-3, 1.20 ERA, 204.2 innings pitched, 261 Ks).

Quick hits: The four losses? The least amount of any team in Division I softball this season. The Terriers have a team ERA of 1.26, which is No. 1 in the entire country. Boston ran the table of its regular season conference and conference tournament. Notable losses? Duke and Northwestern.

No. 4 Cleveland State (22-24, 15-10 Horizon League)

Leading hitter: Emma Gilkerson (.353 avg., six HRs, 20 RBIs).

Leading pitcher: Mellissa Holzopfel (19-9, two saves, 1.77 ERA, 195 Ks).

Quick hits: The first ever meeting between the Vikings and the Sooners. Cleveland State is making its first regional appearance since 2009. As a team, CSU only hit 24 home runs and no individual player hit more than six.

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