Oklahoma softball: It's a new season for Sooners with nine regular-season games left


Oklahoma softball coach Patty Gasso says her team isn't tough enough right now.

The Sooners clearly have the talent -- you don't win 34 out of the first 35 games this season without it -- but for whatever reason, the Sooners have shown an atypical vulnerability in the last two Big 12 series, losing three out of six.

With nine conference games remaining in the 2024 regular season, Oklahoma would like nothing more than to close out its final Big 12 season with a 12th consecutive conference championship and 16th overall in 29 seasons of Big 12 baseball.

The Sooners are also seeking what would be a record fourth national championship. Their ability to put the recent losing skid in the rear-view mirror and get things turned back in the right direction toward the ultimate season goal will be determined over the next several weeks, and that journey begins this weekend with Oklahoma hosting Houston at Love's Field in Norman.

In recent games, OU is encountering a problem with runners left on base. Gasso believes this was a major reason in one of the losses to Texas two weeks ago as well as in two of the games this past weekend against BYU, one of which the Sooners lost and even one in which they were victorious. Oklahoma stranded 11 runners in a 2-1 loss at Texas. Last weekend, OU left 10 runners on base in a 9-4 loss on Friday, and 11 were left on the base paths in a 7-3 Sooner win in the BYU series finale.

This is something Gasso knows her team needs to get fixed quickly or Oklahoma's postseason hopes are likely to get cut short much sooner than anyone anticipated.

The series with Houston, beginning on Friday at 6 p.m., features teams at opposite ends of the Big 12 standings. Oklahoma (39-4, 15-3) holds a one-game lead over second-place Texas and one and a half over Oklahoma State, while the Cougars occupy the cellar in the conference standings with a 3-15 league record and 14-13 overall.

Houston is new to the Big 12 this season, but the Sooners and Cougars have met 15 times historically with Oklahoma winning 14 of the 15. The one loss was in March 2022 ina game at Houston, OU owns a 14-1 record in the series. The two teams have played just two games in Norman with the Sooners winning both times.

Next weekend (April 26-28), the Sooners are at UCF, and they close out the regular-season at home May 3-5 against Bedlam and in-state rival Oklahoma State.

What fans need to know about the OU vs. Houston softball series

  • The key matchup in the series between OU and Houston will be the ability of the Cougar pitching staff to slow down Division I softball's most potent offense. The Sooners lead the country and the Big 12 with a team batting average of .379. The Houston pitching staff is last in the Big 12 with a collective earned run average of close to 6.0 per game (5.87). Oklahoma has five players in its starting lineup hitting better than .400 and a sixth who averages .392. The Sooners average 8.44 runs per game, second best in the country.
  • Oklahoma has won 57 of its last 59 Big 12 series. Twenty-three of the Sooners 43 games this season have been decided by run rule, and 19 of their 39 wins have been shutouts.
  • Houston comes into the Oklahoma series on a winning note after defeating Lamar 15-7 in a midweek contest. The Cougars, however, had lost six straight and 8 of the last 10 previous to that.
  • Three Oklahoma position players rank in the top 35 nationally -- Rylie Boone (29), Alyssa Brito (33) and Jayda Coleman (34) -- with batting averages of .427 or higher.
  • In addition to having the highest team batting average in the nation, Oklahoma leads NCAA Division I softball in fielding percentage (.984 with 17 total errors in 43 games), on-base percentage (.483), shutouts (19) and win-loss percentage (.907), is second in slugging percentage (.690) and scoring (8.90), and third in home runs (86).