College softball’s biggest stage is set once again at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, with one week of action to determine the NCAA national champion.
The Women’s College World Series, one of Oklahoma City’s most recognizable national sporting events, is set to begin at 11 a.m. Thursday. Oklahoma caps the first day with its prime-time matchup against No. 2 seed Alabama at 8:30 p.m. All games will be televised on the ESPN networks.
“Looking at numbers, we match up pretty evenly with Alabama,” said OU third baseman Shelby Pendley, who was named a first-team All-American by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association on Wednesday. “We’re very similar teams, and it’s going to be a really tough game.”
The Sooners are trying to defend their 2013 national title, but they haven’t been enjoying this season from the top. Getting back to this point has been a challenging process at times. OU dropped as low as No. 23 in the national rankings early in the season, before rebounding to earn the No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m very proud of this Oklahoma team this season,” coach Patty Gasso said. “We’ve been through quite a bit. We started slow and finished fast. I’m just extremely proud of their efforts.
“The hard part, to me, is over, and the fun part begins. The hardest part is getting through a regional and super regional with so much at stake. And then, once you’re here, it’s like, ‘Let’s go.’ It’s an honor and privilege to be back.”
For the first time in WCWS history, there is not a team from California or Arizona in the field. Instead, seven different states are represented among the eight teams, spanning from Oregon to Florida.
“There’s some old flavor and some new flavor,” Gasso said. “It’s exciting to see the diversity of teams that are here from all over the country.
“I think it’s going to be a really exciting tournament.”