Oklahoma softball: Baylor in diamond crosshairs for Sooners this weekend

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 29: A detailed photo of the Rawlings baseball glove of Derek Dietrich
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 29: A detailed photo of the Rawlings baseball glove of Derek Dietrich /

It’s all about Baylor this weekend for both the Oklahoma softball and baseball teams.

The Big 12-leading Sooner women are in Waco, Texas, taking on the Baylor Bears in softball while the OU baseball team hosts the Bears for a three-game set at L. Dale Mitchell Park in Norman.

Both Oklahoma squads enter their weekend series fresh on the heels of three-game sweeps at home last weekend over Texas Tech in softball and West Virginia on the baseball diamond.

OU softball is at No. 3 this week in the ESPN.com/USA Softball rankings and sporting a 19-game winning streak, the longest active streak in NCAA Division I. At 28-2, the Sooners are off to their best softball start in 11 years. OU began the 2007 season going 29-1. That season. Oklahoma ended the year with a 55-8 record.

Even more impressive than the record itself, is the way head coach Patti Gasso’s softball team is winning this season. The Sooners have outscored their opponents 214-27. That includes 15 shutouts and a dozen games decided by run rule.

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The number of shutouts by the OU pitching staff is the most at this stage of the season since the 2013 campaign, when Oklahoma posted a 57-4 record and captured its second national championship.

As dominant as the Sooner women have been at home the last several seasons, the two-time defending national champions have been virtually as unbeatable away from the friendly confines of Marita Hynes field. Oklahoma has won 33 consecutive true road contests, including five straight this season.

In road games this season, OU has outscored its opponents 36-5, including two shutouts and one win by run rule.

Oklahoma and Baylor are one and two in the conference in both hitting and pitching. Baylor leads the Big 12 with a team batting average of .347, and the Sooners are right behind at .341.

The order is reversed in pitching, with OU at No. 1 with a staff ERA of 0.88, led by Paige Parker, who sports a 15-1 record with a 0.34 ERA in 81.1 innings of work. Baylor is No. 2 with a collective ERA of 1.88.

The Sooners lead the all-time softball series with Baylor 56-13 and are 18-5 in games played in Waco.

The 15th-ranked Bears are the fourth nationally ranked team Oklahoma has faced this season. OU is 4-1 in those games, the lone loss coming against then-12th-ranked Arizona.

The Oklahoma baseball team is 17-10 and off to a 3-0 start in the Big 12. The Sooners have won four consecutive series. The Easter weekend series with Baylor (13-9, 3-3) marks the end of a seven game homestand and 24 of the last 26 games played in Norman.

Sooner right-handed starters Jake Irwin and Devon Perez are a perfect 4-0 and 3-0, respectively, so far this season and have combined for a total of 63 strikeouts. They will get the start in games one and two of the Baylor series, with Nathan Wiles (1-1) getting the call in the series finale on Friday.

The all-time series between the Sooners and the Baylor Bears is relatively close. Oklahoma owns a slight 42-37 advantage. OU has won two of three from Baylor the last two seasons. The Bears, however, were winners in two of the three games in each of the three previous seasons.

Because of the Easter holiday, both the softball and baseball series this week will be Thursday through Saturday.