Oklahoma softball: Sooners get their wish, Red River revenge match with No. 1 Texas


Ever since losing the season series to then No. 5 Texas in early April, the Oklahoma softball team has relished an opportunity for a rematch against the Big 12 regular-season champion Longhorns.

The Sooners will get that highly-anticipated chance in the Big 12 Softball Championship game on Saturday night at OGE Energy Field at Devon Park in Oklahoma City. The crowd, some 13,000 strong will definitely favor Oklahoma, but the top-ranked Longhorns come in as the betting favorite on the field, totting an 18-game win streak.

Top-ranked Texas has not lost a game since suffering a 5-2 loss to OU in Game 1 of that series back on April 5. What's more, the Longhorn bats have been red hot. The Horns have scored in double digits in each of their last five games and outscored their opponents 77-15 over that time. Four of those games, though, were against Texas Tech, which has the worst pitching staff in the Big 12 with a collective ERA over 6.00,

Oklahoma's Kelly Maxwell went the distance in the April 7 win over Texas, holding down the high-powered Longhorn offense to just two runs on three hits along with 10 strikeouts. OU had seven hits and five runs off of Longhorn starter Mac Morgan. Texas won the next two games by identical scores of 2-1 and handed Oklahoma its first Big 12 series loss since 2011.

Those two Texas wins broke a seven-game winning streak by the Sooners over Texas, which included three wins over the Longhorns in the 2022 Women's College World Series. OU and Texas both advanced to the best two-of-three championship series, which required only two games with the Sooners winning 16-1 and 1-5 to earn their second of three consecutive national championships (2021, '22 and '23)..

The championship showdown on Saturday night features the two best teams in the Big 12, which is as it should be, Between them they've won 19 regular-season Big 12 titles and 12 tournament championships. The last time a Longhorn team won the regular-season crown before this season was 2010, and you have to go back to 2005 for the last time Texas prevailed in the Big 12 postseason tournament.

Texas and Oklahoma rank No. 1 and 2, respectively, in the Big 12 in both hitting and pitching. The Longhorns are batting .356 as a team in Big 12 play; OU is hitting .345. Both teams are averaging seven runs a game against conference opponents, while allowing 2.29 (Oklahoma) and 2.56 (Texas) runs per game.

Given the outstanding hitting and pitching possessed by both teams, the edge in Saturday's tournament championship game will go to the team with the best pitching performance. As the popular saying goes in sports, " great defense (in this case pitching and fielding) beats great offense."

We'll see if that indeed is the way things go on Saturday night.

The one thing we do know about this game between No. 1 Texas and No. 4-ranked Oklahoma, the winner will almost certainly be rewarded with the overall top seed in the NCAA Softball Championship, which begins next week.