In 2022 the Sooner Softball team was able to become national champions once again. After winning out right Big 12 champions and posing an incredible 59-3 record, they are coming back this season to do it once again. However, they did lose Jocelyn Alo and G Juarez, but the Sooners kept valuable weapons as well. Looking into the first tournament, the Mark Campbell Invitational, OU is looking to show people they are right on track for a 3peat as National Champions.
The first game of the season will be against Duke, a team that made its way to a super-regional last year. They completed a very impressive 44-11 record last year. Duke did lose their top 5 hitters, but are returning 3 hitters that did pose over .300 averages. As for pitching, they graduated their top pitcher, but are returning Wright who had a 2.09 ERA in over 100 innings of work.
Liberty is their next match up, they made it to a regional last year and graduated their top 2 hitters. They have 3 hitters returning that held over a .300 batting average last season. The team batting average was .291 with over 200 walks and 76 doubles. On the pitching side, their top pitcher is not returning, but they will have Keeney who threw 171.1 innings and held a 19-7 record.
Stanford will be their third and toughest match up. Stanford had a 39-22 record and made it to a super- regional last year. The team will be very experienced as they are returning all of the top 9 hitters. Out of the 9, 4 of them posted over .300 averages. As a team they had a .270 average with a .389 slugging percentage. Pitching is their strong suit, they are returning two pitchers that threw over 80% of the innings last year. Both finished with below 2 ERA’s, allowed less than 50 walks each.
Another big game will be against Washington. They made it to a regional last year and had a record of 38-17. Hitting wise they are returning a hitter who posted an average over .400 and a .500 on base percentage. They only lost 1 of their top 9 hitters and they had a .283 batting average with 90 home runs. Their overall slugging percentage was .541 and a .377 on base percentage. Washington graduated their major pitcher Gabbie Plain, but they have two returning pitchers. They collectively pitched 106 innings, Lynch saw 75 of them and had 97 strike outs and a 3.55 ERA.
The last game will be against San Jose State who finished the season 22-29 last year. However, they are returning 8 out of their 9 top hitters. Two of them had over .300 averages, the hitters did have 274 strike outs as a team. The team slugging percentage was .409 with 60 doubles and 36 home runs. Their pitching staff is returning 2 out of the 3 top pitchers. Ullegue saw 140.2 innings with a 2.79 ERA and 16-9 record.
For 2023 the Sooners are going to face some competition that can allow them to make an early name for themselves. Facing 5 teams with post season experience will be a great test of this new Sooner team. The toughest pitching staff they will face would have to be Stanford as they are returning a stellar staff. A team that will challenge the Sooners pitching staff would be Washington as they are historically good and returning a massive amount of their hitting line up. Look for the Sooners to show off their dominance in the last game of this weekend against San Jose State.
Featured photo courtesy of Brett Rojo- USA TODAY sports
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