What OU softball fans need to know about teams in the NCAA Norman Regional


The real season -- at least the one that the Sooners and their fans have been anxiously waiting for -- begins this week for the Oklahoma softball team.

Regional play in the NCAA Softball Championship gets under way this weekend at 16 regional sites around the country, including in Norman, Oklahoma, where the Oklahoma Sooners, the No. 2 overall seed, enter into the homestretch of their season-long quest for an unprecedented fourth consecutive national championship.

This is the 13th consecutive season that Oklahoma has hosted an NCAA Regional in softball and 20th since the Big 12 came into existence in 1996. The Sooners are 57-7 in NCAA Regional games in Norman and 83-20 all-time in NCAA Regional action. Oklahoma is hoping to advance to the Super Regional round of 16 for the 14th consecutive year.

In order to advance, however, the Sooners, with a season record of 49-6, must take care of business against the three teams that make up the field in the Norman Regional: Cleveland State, Boston University and Oregon. Oklahoma is 14-8 all-time against the teams in this year's Norman Regional (4-2 against Boston U. and 10-6 vs. Oregon) and 4-0 against the field as NCAA Regional opponents.

The Sooners will play Cleveland State in the opening round on Friday at Love's Field (7 p.m. CT on ESPNU). If Oklahoma wins its opening round game, the Sooners will face the winner of Boston U. vs. Oregon in the double-elimination regional format.

If Oklahoma wins the Norman Regional it will remain at home in the Super Regionals to face the winner of the Tallahassee Regional hosted by 15th-seeded Florida State. The other teams in that regional are Auburn, UCF out of the Big 12 and Chattanooga.

Here is what OU fans need to know about teams in Norman Regional

No, 4 Cleveland State (22-24, 15-10 Horizon League)

  • Cleveland State earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Softball Tournament by winning the Horizon League. The Vikings are the lowest-ranked RPI team in the entire tournament field at No. 236 and are the only team in the field with a record below .500.
  • Friday's opening-round game with Oklahoma is the first meeting between the two teams.
  • Sophomore Emma Gilkerson leads the team in hitting with a .353 batting average and a team-best six home runs. The Vikings' best pitcher is junior Melissa Holzopfel with a 19-9 record and a 1.77 ERA. She has 195 strikeouts and 74 walks in 193.1 innings.

No. 3. Boston University (52-4, 18-0 Patriot League)

  • This team is no joke. The Terriers' four losses this season are the fewest in Division I Softball. This is Boston U's 13th appearance in the NCAA Softball Tournament. The Terriers are 8-24 in previous appearances, including the 2018 Norman Regional. OU defeated Boston 9-0 in that regional meeting.
  • Boston's leading hitter is senior outfielder Lauren Keleher with a .407 batting average, 1.129 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 52 runs and eight home runs. Kasey Ricard is the name to know in the circle. Ricard owns a 27-3 season record with a 1.21 ERA and 261 strikeouts in 204.2 innings. The opponents' batting average against Ricard is .142. She has 14 solo shutouts this season.
  • The Terriers are 2-3 this season against teams ranked in the top-50.

No. 2 Oregon (28-19, 13-12 Pac-12)

  • This is Oregon's 24th appearance in the NCAA Softball Tournament. The Ducks' NCAA Tournament record is 82-53.
  • Redshirt junior outfielder Kai Luschar is Oregon's most dangerous hitter with a .423 batting average, 46 runs scored and just 10 strikeouts. She also has stolen 27 bases in 35 attempts. Ariel Carlson has 15 home runs, 13 doubles and a .766 slugging percentage. Redshirt Elise Sokolsky leads the Oregon pitching staff with an 8-3 record and a 2.41 ERA, 63 strikeouts and 26 walks in 76.2 innings
  • Oklahoma is 10-6 vs. Oregon all-time, including a 3-0 record in Norman
  • Oregon head coach Melyssa Lombardi played at Oklahoma (1995-1996) and was an assistant under Patty Gasso at OU from 1997-2018. Sydney Romero, who starred at Oklahoma from 2016 to 2019 is an assistant coach at Oregon