Let’s dive into some season previews! I’m going to break down the Sooners toughest matchups in conference play. These will be broken down into our lineup vs best pitching staff, our staff vs best lineup, and whole team vs strongest matchup. There is a bit of speculation as well as some statistical analysis used in choosing who is the toughest. I will evaluate returnees as well as plugging in transfers and expected freshman contributors.
Let’s start with our lineup vs best staff: Oklahoma State
Returning Kelly Maxwell who was arguably the best pitcher in all of college softball last season is reason enough for the Cowgirls to be a tough matchup for the Sooners. Maxwell posted a tough 1.22 ERA going 21-5 and throwing 20 complete games. The Cowgirls graduated a couple of pitchers so it remains to be seen how well they will be replaced but they added transfer Lexi Kilfoyl from Alabama where she appeared in 18 games and posted a 2.36 ERA with a 9-3 record. I would expect her to take quite a jump from her previous 80 innings pitched if they want to keep Maxwell fresh. Sophomore Tatum Clopton only threw 9 innings last year so I would expect they are hoping to get more out of her this season.
Our staff vs best lineup: Baylor
This might surprise some people but they return the most of their top production from last season and the other teams have huge question marks so it may not be the toughest at the end of the day but predictability wise Baylor could very well be the toughest lineup we see this season in conference play. Mckenzie Wilson leads the offense with a .424 average and 29 RBI. Baylor isn’t a power offense they only hit 22 HR as a team last season. They are scrappy and were really young last year. They also return Emily Hott (.331) and Aliyah Binford (.316) the bottom of the lineup will need to take a step but as I said earlier they were young last season and can reasonably be expected to grow in production.
Best overall matchup: Oklahoma State
This is to no one’s surprise, OSU has been a program on the rise under Kenny Gajewski. He is a fantastic coach (played baseball at OU and coached under Patti Gasso as a graduate assistant) They return one of the best pitchers in all of collegiate softball as stated above, they boasted the best defense in the Big 12 last year but have some pieces to replace. They are coming off back to back to back appearances in OKC and starts the season off ranked number 3 (D1 softball). I would expect the Cowgirls to be highly motivated to protect home turf as bedlam is in Stillwater this year and most likely will be a rematch in the finals of the Big 12 tournament and possibly even in OKC.
I do not expect the Big 12 to present much of a challenge on the whole for Oklahoma but there will be a few intriguing matchups along the way. I hope you all are as excited as I am for the season to get under way Feb 9th against Duke!
Barry, and Damian, talk about Oklahoma’s 28-11 victory over SMU and how the Sooners looked against the Mustangs in the contest. Is there more maturing that must take place for Offensive Coordinator, Jeff Lebby, to take those next steps? The fellas also discuss how OU’s defense continues to show promise even in the midst of a game that hung in the balance for a little bit. Did Dillon Gabriel show the ability to win the clutch games, how did the linebackers perform, and who is RB1 for the Sooners? Do not miss the postgame podcast episode!
Barry, and Damian, have a conversation with former-Sooner RB, Kejuan Jones.
Barry, and Damian, give a complete preview of the offensive depth chart as the Sooners continue through fall camp. They dive into each position along the offense and who may surprise at various positions this upcoming season. They also talk about the impact of NIL as of late and the Sooners’ most recent recruiting “miss.”
Barry, and Damian, provide their reaction to the photos and videos of the current rosters’ summer results from working with Coach Jerry Schmidt, and his staff, over the summer. They also discuss the recent crumbling of the PAC-12, as well as Coach Venables’ comments about not comparing his current Sooner defense to his past teams. The guys also talk about the battle at guard across the offensive line and how coaches are transparent with the players in their position group.