With its narrow 3-2 win over Alabama in the opening round of the Women’s College World Series, the Oklahoma softball team is just two wins away from playing for the WCWS championship.
The Sooners, the No. 1 seed in this year’s NCAA Softball Championship, could take a giant step toward becoming just the sixth No. 1 seed in the last 16 years to make it all the way to the finish line with a victory Friday night in an all-Oklahoma Bedlam battle with Oklahoma State.
OU and OSU are longtime rivals and obviously know each other extremely well, having played each other a total of 163 times. The Sooners own a 93-73 advantage in the all-time series and have won 23 consecutive games against their in-state rivals, including a three-game series sweep this season.
That should make Sooner fans feel comfortable and confident about the Friday night winner’s bracket matchup the rivals from Stillwater. And therein lies the danger.
Oklahoma State is a very good team. The Cowgirls (45-15) were runners-up to Oklahoma in the Big 12 this season and defeated defending national champion Florida State in the Super Regionals on the Seminoles’ home field to punch their ticket to Oklahoma City.
On Thursday night, Oklahoma State showed why they are worthy of being in the WCWS, playing one of its best games of the season and knocking off another team from the Sunshine State ,No. 5 Florida, 2-1, with just two hits in the game. Both hits were home runs off the bat of OSU pitcher Samantha Show.
Defeating a team four times in one season is one of the most difficult tasks in sports, let alone 24 consecutive times. The last time OSU beat Oklahoma in softball was 2011.
All of which is a long way of saying the Friday night, primetime Bedlam should be a terrific battle and much closer than the historical record would indicate.
So far, Oklahoma has done well in close games, winning four of five one-run games this season, three of three in two-run games and prevailing in four of five decided by three runs. The best offensive lineup in the country, the Sooners don’t play many close games. On average, their winning margin this season is six-plus runs (7.7 to 1.1 for OU’s opponents).
On Thursday night, before a highly partisan Oklahoma crowd at USA Hall of Fame Stadium, the Sooners did what they had to do to deliver their 55th win of the season. They will need more of the same against their Bedlam rivals.
A win over Oklahoma State would put the five Sooner seniors on the roster within three games of winning a remarkable three national title in four seasons at Oklahoma.