NORMAN — Relentless.
That's the word Keilani Ricketts used to describe Oklahoma's mindset on its quest for a second consecutive berth in the Women's College World Series. That begins this weekend when the Sooners (45-8), the No. 4 overall seed in the tournament, host the Norman Regional. OU will open against Lehigh at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Oregon State and Tulsa are the other teams in the regional and will play at 5 p.m. Friday.
The winner of the Norman Regional will face the winner of the Tucson Regional, which could peg OU against Arizona, two teams that faced each other in the Super Regionals last season.
“It's just really special with this group,” Ricketts said. “Everyone's out there playing with full passion, from the freshmen to the seniors.”
It's an attitude that's fostered inside the team during the past year. The Sooners surprised some last season when a young squad went on the road to beat a traditional power in Arizona in the Super Regionals, but then left its first WCWS appearance since 2004 without a victory.
This season, way more is expected after OU captured the Big 12 title.
“The mindset is we're not going to lose any more games,” freshman infielder Lauren Chamberlain said. “Our mindset is that we're taking it all, but it is kind of an unsaid thing. We expect it out of each other.
“When we look at each other, we're kind of just (saying), ‘We're doing this, we're going all the way.'”
Not to say this squad doesn't still feature quite a bit of youth, as the Sooners have just three seniors. But other than Chamberlain and fellow freshmen regulars Georgia Casey and Erica Sampson, OU now has the experience of playing against the best in OKC, including defending national champion Arizona State.