Oklahoma softball: Sooners have payback in mind in Big 12 Championship


The No. 4-ranked Oklahoma softball team is in unfamiliar territory as it heads up Interstate-35 to Oklahoma City this week for the Big 12 Softball Championship.

For just the second time in the last six years the postseason conference tournament has been held, the Sooners are not the top seed. As a result of losing two of three in the series with Oklahoma State last weekend, Oklahoma dropped out of the top spot in the league standings in seemingly forever.

In fact, it has been a dozen years since the Sooners came into this tournament as anything but the No. 1 seed. OU dropped from No. 2 to No. 4 in the national rankings this week, but takes the No. 2 seed into the Big 12 Softball Championship at newly renamed Devon Park (formerly OGE Energy Field at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium) because of finishing a game ahead of Oklahoma State in the final regular-season conference standings.

The Sooners atypically lost series this season to both Texas and Oklahoma State, ranked Nos. 1 and 2 nationally this week, and is sandwiched between those two teams in this week's conference championship, which begins on Wednesday. Oklahoma will play the winner of the opening round game between 7-seed Kansas and 10-seed Houston, on Thursday at 1:30 CT.

The Sooners' swept the conference series against both Kansas and Houston, outscoring the Jayhawks 30-4 in the three games and 23-2 in the series with Houston.

Patty Gasso's squad is likely on a collision course with Oklahoma State in the semifinals of the single-elimination conference tournament for the right, in all likelihood, to play Texas for the championship.

You know the Sooners are hopeful of that path and the opportunity to avenge the regular-season losses to both of those teams. As far as the Sooner players are concerned, they come into the tournament with the full confidence and belief that the road to this year's Big 12 Championship goes through the reigning-champions,

"I think this is a team that likes the opportunity to get -- whoever might have beaten them they hope to see them again to make it right or revenge tour or whatever you want to call it."

OU head coach Patty Gasso

"There are things we can learn from this weekend (Big 12 Championship)," the OU head coach said to reporters at a briefing this week in advance of the tournament. "If we can win it all, likely going through some really good teams that maybe (could) help move us."

Gasso said she really doesn't care where the Sooners are seeded when the NCAA Tournament selections come out on Sunday as long as they fall somewhere in the top eight, because that will mean OU will stay at home through the regionals and super regionals. After that it is anybody's ball game.