Discover more from Oklahoma Columnist, by Clay Horning
How good are the Knights, Cowgirls a win away, Alo's insane numbers
Oklahoma begins super regional play against Central Florida, who appear to have made a believer of Sooner coach Patty Gasso
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Patty Gasso may be Central Florida’s biggest fan.
“They play a tough schedule, to their credit, and it has paid off for them,” said Oklahoma’s softball coach, whose national No. 1-seed Sooners take on the Knights in a best of three super regional beginning at 3:30 p.m.. today at Marita Hynes Field. “They’ve won some big games and I’m not going to say they’re under the radar because they’re not any more.”
Perhaps she’s just saying that.
Hard to know, the Knights have played an interesting slate.
They went out of their way to play tough teams and for the most part it didn’t work. Their first game of the season was terrific, a 7-6 eight-inning triumph over 12th-ranked Georgia, yet their luck did not hold.
They fell 3-1 to Minnesota, the second team eliminated at last weekend’s Norman Regional, lost to 19th-ranked Michigan 6-0, lost to 18th-ranked Tennessee 6-2, beat 11th-ranked Texas 15-10, lost 8-0 to fifth-ranked Florida State and lost 12-11 to fourth-ranked Florida
They beat Texas Tech, Ole Miss, James Madison and DePaul; Pacific, Fresno State, Boston University, Iowa State, Cal-Fullerton, Nebraska and Long Beach State, too.
Still, wins over ranked teams proved elusive.
The took one of three from fifth-ranked Virginia Tech, and getting another crack at Florida, fell 10-3.
They were the American Athletic Conference’s best, going 16-2 in the league, falling once at Houston and once to Wichita State, almost certainly the heaviest hitting team outside of the Power Five conferences.
Most impressively, after getting the No. 16 national seed, Central Florida had to get through the Orlando Regional, which also included Michigan, who the Knights failed to beat in February, and beat them twice, earning their way to Norman today.
“Like I said, they’re good … their pitchers are outstanding and they’ve got more than a few that can do the job,” Gasso said. “So we’ve just got to stick with our gameplan and continue to trust in the training that we’re doing.”
Five different Knights have toed the rubber this season, but 215 of 408 innings have been thrown by two pitchers, Gianna Mancha and Kama Woodall.
Mancha’s tossed 181 innings, compiled a 23-3 record with a 1.62 earned run average, striking out 186 and walking 77.
Woodall’s tossed 134 1/3 innings, compiled amo 18-4 record and a 1.88 earned run average, striking out 103 and walking 48.
Should they walk Sooners at the same rate, it will not go well.
Jada Cody’s Central Florida’s best hitter, leading the Knights in about every offensive category, hitting .363, slugging .695, with a .439 on-base percentage, 14 home runs, 15 doubles an 74 RBIs.
Only one other Knight’s slugging better than .500 and that’s Shannon Doherty, who’s hitting .310 and slugging .506, with seven home runs and 36 RBIs.
As a team, Central Florida’s hitting .300, getting on base .401 and slugging .443. In 61 games, the Knights have hit 41 home runs, 92 fewer than the Sooners have hit in 54.
Off and running
The super regional round began Thursday for a couple Big 12 teams.
Texas fell early, 7-1 at Arkansas, with Game 2 scheduled for 3 p.m. today.
Oklahoma State prevailed late, 2-0 over Clemson, with Game 2 scheduled for 5 p.m. today in Stillwater.
Hog pitcher Chenise Delce owned the Longhorns, allowing six hits, but walking only one in her complete game victory. The Longhorns went through three pitchers, allowing 12 hits and walking four.
The Cowgirls got a complete game two-hitter from Kelly Maxwell, who struck out 13 and walked only one.
OSU got both its runs on an up-the-middle single from Cheyenne Factor in a fifth inning that also included doubles from Taylor Tuck and Katelyn Carwile.
The remaining six super regionals begin today.
Bahl in the running
Sooner freshman pitcher Jordy Bahl, though she hasn’t pitched since before the Big 12 tournament, was named one of three finalists, along with Virginia Tech’s Emma Lemley and Arizona State’s Sydney Sanders, for the 2022 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year award.
Bahl’s gone 21-1 with a 0.95 earned run average over 132 1/2 innings of the Sooners, striking out 199 and walking 26, while opponents have hit just .137 against her.
OU’s Jocelyn Alo enters the super regional round with a bunch of ridiculous numbers beyond the NCAA best 115 career home runs everybody knows about.
Her .500 batting average trails only Wichita State’s Sydney McKinney, who finished her season hitting .522. Her 27 home runs trail only Wichita State’s Addison Barnard (33) and Miami of Ohio’s Karli Said (28), though Alo could conceivably still pass both.
Alo’s 1.157 slugging percentage leads the nation, as does her .640 on-base percentage.
If Monopoly money were statistics, it would be Alo’s statistics.
Norman Super Regional schedule
UCF at OU, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
UCF at OU, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday, if necessary
UCF at OU, TBA
In case you missed it
Sooner dominance hardly fair, April 9