The back-to-back defending national champion Oklahoma softball team (50-3, 18-0 Big 12) has earned the No. 4 overall seed in the 2018 NCAA Division I Softball Championship and will host an NCAA Regional in Norman beginning Friday, May 18. The four-team, three-day event features Missouri (28-27, 6-17 SEC) facing Tulsa (33-23, 10-11 American) at 3:30 p.m. CT on Friday on WatchESPN before the Sooners take on Boston University (39-18, 15-3 Patriot) at 6 p.m. Friday on ESPN2. The winner of this weekends regional will advance to the NCAA Super Regional round against the winner of the Fayetteville Regional, hosted by Arkansas.
Winner of seven straight Big 12 championships, Oklahoma has been a national seed for each of the past 12 seasons and will host a regional for the eighth year in a row. Oklahoma has made the NCAA Tournament in every year of head coach Patty Gasso’s 24 seasons at the helm of the program and in 25 straight seasons overall. Last season, OU became the fourth program ever to win back-to-back national titles. The Sooners finished their Big 12 Conference season with a perfect 18-0 record claiming the outright title, along with the Big 12 Tournament Title. The Sooners rank fifth in the NCAA with a .330 team batting average and fourth in team ERA with 1.19. Senior Paige Parker holds an impressive 0.94 ERA of her own in 148.1 innings of work.
Best Shot at the Upset
Tulsa earned the American Athletic Conference’s automatic bid for the third time in its four seasons as a league member by defeating regular-season champion USF in the conference tournament title game, 4-1, on Saturday afternoon in Tampa, Fla. Playing as the No. 6 seed, TU knocked off each of the top three seeds en route to its seventh conference tournament crown. All 10 of Tulsa’s regional appearances have come under head coach John Bargfeldt, who now has guided the Hurricane to the NCAA Tournament in seven of the last eight seasons. As a team, Tulsa holds a .274 batting average with four players hitting over .300.
Players to Watch
Tulsa’s Emily Watson was just named The American Championship’s Most Outstanding Player for the second consecutive year after she went 3-0, outdueling all three pitchers who were selected first-team all-conference, with just 13 hits and one earned run allowed (0.33 ERA) to go along with a tournament-record 36 strikeouts in 21 innings. The senior holds a season 1.55 ERA and has struck out 300 batters in 225.2 innings pitched.
Boston University pitcher Ali DuBois has had an impressive freshman campaign in 2018. DuBois holds a 28-7 season record and a 1.77 ERA. The freshman phenom has struck out 191 batters and is holding opposing hitters to a .204 batting average in 222 innings pitched.
Let’s not forget last year’s 2017 Norman Regional where Tulsa had Oklahoma on the ropes in the first Championship game. Oklahoma rallied from a two-run deficit in the 10th inning for a 6-4 win. Tulsa had taken a 4-2 lead in the top of the 10th before the Sooners rallied in the bottom of the inning. OU advanced out of the Regional, the Super Regional, and went on to win the Women’s College World Series for the second straight year. We can expect that both teams will recall the Regional outcome from a year ago when they face off on the field this time around. The Sooners are playing some of their best softball right now and we predict they will advance out of Norman once again.