Michele Smith, a two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist and former Oklahoma State women's softball star, broadcasts about 50 games a year. Smith, 44, of Treasure Island, Fla., will team with play-by-play announcer Pam Ward to call the Women's College World Series opener at noon Thursday on ESPN2 as OU faces first-time entrant South Florida. The ESPN family of networks will carry every game of the WCWS. Beth Mowins and Jessica Mendoza will broadcast the Thursday night games. Smith discussed OU's chances and the WCWS:
What are your impressions of the Sooners?
Well, they are a very strong team. They have a great pitcher in the circle (Keilani Ricketts). They have outstanding defense behind Keilani. And they have a very sound offense. When you look at all three of those facets, Oklahoma brings a very strong team to the table.
Do they have a chance to win the title?
Absolutely they do. I think the other thing that really helps them is they have experience. They were here last year. I think it's not just ‘Oh, we're happy to make it to Oklahoma City.' I think they now understand what it takes to get to the championship series. A lot of winning a national championship is getting hot at the right time, being lucky, getting those clutch hits, making the perfect pitch when it is needed. Really it is going to come down to executing the game and all those three facets. I do think it will come down to the talent and the mentality to do it. And they have a great coach. Patty Gasso is one of the best in the game.
Who do you consider the favorite?
Probably Cal because they have been No. 1 all year long. They play in the Pac-12 so that seasons the kids and they have the one-two (pitching) punch in Jolene Henderson and Valerie Arioto. So those two athletes together on top of the other kids on the team are very, very good. My three favorites are probably Cal, Oklahoma and Alabama, but all the teams that are here are here for a reason.