Discover more from Oklahoma Columnist, by Clay Horning
Why Sooners are an insane favorite, the latest on Jordy Bahl and who's still dancing where
Has any team in any sport ever ranked No. 1 in every crucial stat category as Oklahoma does entering super regional play against Central Florida?
Note: Oklahoma Columnist is covering Sooner softball and the chase for the national championship until a national champion. Subscribe for free and keep up with all of it. Only your e-mail is required.
We could spend 1,000 words explaining why anything less than Oklahoma winning win its sixth overall and second straight softball national championship would mark failure or we can do it as quickly as we can and move on to other things as we consider the Sooners’ quest.
The No. 1 national seed, OU begins play in the Norman Super Regional at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Marita Hynes Field against Central Florida and the reasons why anything less than winning it all just won’t do are thus:
Among the categories in which the Sooners lead the nation are …
• Batting average: .369
The next best team batting average among the 16 programs still standing is .335, belonging to both Duke and Arkansas, four spots back of OU.
• Home runs per game: 2.42
Arkansas’s ranks fifth at 1.95. Arizona State, also still playing, is next at 1.88.
• On-base percentage: .476
Arkansas ranks third at .434. Arizona State’s fifth at .426.
• Slugging percentage: .730*
Arizona State, Arkansas and Duke, also still standing, are all tied for third at .620, miles and miles behind OU.
* Slugging percentage may not be understood by a majority of casual fans, so here it is:
While batting average is hits per at bat, slugging percentage is bases per at bat. For instance, if it’s the first game of the season and you come to the plate and collect a single your first at bat and then make outs your next three at bats, you’ve gone 1 for 4 and you’re batting average is .250 and your slugging percentage is also .250, a single being worth one base. Yet, if that lone hit was a home run, accounting for four bases, your batting average is still .250 but your slugging percentage is 1.000 … or, as they say, “one thousand”.
Aren’t diamond stats wonderful?
Runs per game: 9.09
Of those still standing, four rank in the top 10: Arkansas third at 7.39, Duke fourth at 7.36 and Arizona State eighth at 6.81.
• Earned run average: 0.81
UCLA’s next more than a half run behind the Sooners at 1.38, which is ridiculous, because while there are no teams within half a run of OU’s ERA, there are eight teams within half a run of UCLA’s ERA.
There you go.
The Sooners lead the nation in every offensive category that matters and pretty much the only pitching statistic that matters. They’re also 14th in fielding percentage at .976, so they’ve given up a few unearned runs, but not very many.
Unless your argument is the Big 12 stinks, you have to make the Sooners a huge favorite going forward. Also, the Big 12 doesn’t stink, because it’s got three teams among the remaining 16, the same number as both the SEC and ACC, two fewer than the Pac-12’s five.
What’s up with Jordy?
As we last explained, OU coach Patty Gasso, purposely or unthinkingly, spilled the beans on her freshman phenom pitcher, Jordy Bahl, a couple of days before last weekend’s Norman Regional began on a podcast hosted by former Sooner football greats Teddy Lehman and Gabe Ikard.
Gasso said it was a forearm injury, doctors were involved, there’d been one x-ray procured and another was happening that very day.
She also said she’d spent a long time talking to former Arizona great and transcendent softball star Jennie Finch and Finch had told her it was possible to pitch through a fractured forearm.
Wednesday, speaking to media, Gasso sounded optimistic Bahl would return to the circle, though she offered no timetable.
“The good news is Jordy has been throwing a little in the bullpen and we’re very optimistic … I don’t know exactly when, but we’re optimistic she’s going to be able to help this team,” Gasso said. “She’s a competitor, she’s extremely frustrated. She wants to get back where she was right now and that’s not the right way to do it.”
“We’ve got to get her to listen to what the doctor is saying, listen to what the trainer and the coaches are saying and just be patient. That’s what it’s going to take.
“Her attitude is ‘I want to go 100 percent right now’ and we’re not able to do that at this moment, but she’s working toward that.”
Bahl sports a 21-1 record and a 0.95 earned run average over 132 1/3 innings, striking out 139 and walking 32.
Hope Trautwein leads the Sooners with a 0.42 ERA, yet when both were available, Gasso tended to roll out Bahl more often in the biggest games.
Trautwein’s thrown 99 1/3 innings.
Nicole May, 14-0 with a 0.99 ERA, has thrown 78 innings.
Here are the eight super regional matchups:
No. 16 Central Florida at No. 1 Oklahoma
No. 9 Northwestern at No. 8 Arizona State
No. 12 Duke at No. 5 UCLA
Texas at No. 4 Arkansas
No. 14 Florida at No. 3 Virginia Tech
Oregon State at Stanford
No. 10 Clemson at No. 7 Oklahoma State
Arizona at Mississippi State
Charting the upsets
Texas advanced through No. 13 seed Washington in Seattle.
Stanford advanced through No. 11 seed Tennessee in Knoxville.
Oregon State advanced through No. 6 seed Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Mississippi State advanced through No. 15 seed Missouri in Columbia.
Arizona advanced through No. 2 seed Florida State in Tallahassee.
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
Stillwater Super Regional schedule
Clemson at OSU, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Clemson at OSU, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
Saturday, if necessary
Clemson at OSU, TBA
Catching up with Sooner softball
Sooner dominance hardly fair, April 9