OU-Alabama Super Regional A Must See

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“OU-Alabama Super Regional A Must See” Written By Bill Plummer

NORMAN, Okla.– The eight NCAA Softball Super Regionals scheduled this weekend will have the interest of the most avid softball fan, especially the fans in Oklahoma and Alabama.

The matchup of No. 5 Alabama and No. 11 Oklahoma is as good as it gets for Division One softball and fans should get their money’s worth in Tuscaloosa when the best-of-three series starts Friday night.

These two top-ten teams have met in the past and Alabama holds a 7-3 edge on the Sooners. The most recent national championship meeting between these two outstanding softball teams was in in 2012 when Alabama defeated the Sooners 5-4 in the NCAA championship series in a final marked by rain and Sooner ace Keilani Ricketts having control problems.

The Sooners never forget what happened in that Series and showed it where it counts the most– on the field, winning their second NCAA national title in convincing fashion in 2013 and establishing itself as one of the greatest teams in Division One softball history.

Ricketts graduated, but the Sooners’ program continues to flourish and again qualified for the College World Series in 2014, while the Crimson Tide was defeated in the 2013 Super Regionals and missed an opportunity for another title.The Tide did, however, beat OU in their opening game of the 2014 World Series. The Tide was the first team from the SEC to win it all in 2012, and the Tide have another outstanding team looking for a berth in the 2015 World Series.

Oklahoma equally has another outstanding team and it’s too bad both of these fine teams have to meet in the Super Regional. Each is good enough to be among the Elite Eight in Oklahoma City, which has become the melting pot of Division One softball.

This is the senior year for OU’s Lauren Chamberlain, Shelby Pendley and Georgia Casey, who were members of the 2013 national titlists, and there is no doubt they would love to again advance to the Women’s College World Series. OU is seeking its fifth straight and 10th overall berth in the World Series while the Tide is also seeking its 10th berth in the WCWS after qualifying seven times in a nine-year span.

OU (48-7) enters the game on an eight-game game win streak while the Tide (45-12) has won its last three games in a row. As expected and hoped by the respective coaches, Patty Gasso and Pat Murphy, the teams are peaking at the right time and there isn’t any doubt these two fine coaches will have their teams primed for a Super Regional that will be as good as it gets for Division One softball.

The Crimson Tide was impressive in its three wins in the Regional at home and dominated the three other teams, collecting 34 hits and 10 walks and run-ruling Washington twice,28-1. The Tide pitching was so good that the opposition didn’t get a runner to third until the fourth inning of the Regional Championship game.

OU, meanwhile, won the Norman Regional at home and won three games including twice beating the SEC’s Texas A&M, 7-5 and 2-0. OU had to rally to advance to the championship game on Sunday, but this an OU team that is mentally tough and handles pressure well when the Sooners are trailing. Freshman pitcher Paige Parker was as different as night and day against the Aggies. She allowed a career high five earned runs Saturday before coming back on Sunday to hurl a three-hitter for her ninth shutout of the season.

Parker (27-5) has been the ace of the OU pitching staff this year and again will be expected to lead the Sooners from the circle while Shelby Pendley will handle shortstop and has also played well from the circle when called upon. She and NCAA career homer leader Chamberlain form the most potent tandem in NCAA softball, with 44 homers between them. Pendley deserves to be named Player of the Year after excelling on offense, defense and in the circle. She’s a complete player and will go down in OU history as an all-time great after starting her career at Arizona. Chamberlain likewise will go down in OU history as all-time great and hit well in the Regional last weekend ( five-for-11, one homer, two RBIs). She’s batting .403 entering the Super Regional with 20 homers and 60 RBI. Pendley has 24 homers and 65 RBI with a team-leading .434 batting average.

While Parker will be counted on to lead the Sooners from the mound, the Tide has three pitchers who’ve had excellent seasons. SEC Freshman of the Year Alexis Osorio is 26-9 along with Leslie Jury 18-9 and Syndey Littlejohn 13-5. Osorio and Littlejohn have earned run averages less than two runs per game while Jury has a 2.47 ERA. Giving up less than two runs a game is outstanding in an era of college softball where offense leads the way more often than not. Alabama’s team ERA of 1.80 ranks ninth among Division One teams.

Parker has an ERA 1.49 of entering the weekend and how she handles the pressure of playing in her first Super Regional with an overflow crowd of Tide fans expected to attend. The Tide has some of the most enthusiast fans in college softball and the results are event. Alabama is 22-7 at home this year and there is no need to worry about Tide fans not attending. In those 29 games, Alabama has averaged 2,727 people per game. This weekend the attendance should be over 3,000 every game.

Each team has power with OU among the nation’s leaders in runs per game,(8.71 per game, first in nation), batting average (.371,second in nation) and home runs (103, second in nation) while the Tide has an advantage in the speed department with 89 stolen bases in 106 attempts. Leadoff hitter and outfielder Haylie McCleney has been impressive to say the least and leads the Tide with 31 steals on 33 attempts plus an impressive .461 batting average. She even showed power in the Regional, hitting a pair of homers in the Regional final to increase her season total to seven to go with 46 RBIs. She will be counted on to spark the Tide offense and put it in motion and had a .444 batting average with four homers in the Regional.

While McCleney will be counted on to lead the Tide, OU has had different players step up when needed, although Pendley and Chamberlain have been the ring leaders of offense.You never know who is going to step up and get a key hit or make an outstanding defensive play for the Sooners who have a fielding percentage of .979 compared to Alabama’s .974. Erin Miller’s two-run homer was the difference in the 7-5 win over Texas A&M Saturday as the Aggies battled the Sooners right to the end. But the mental resolve of the Sooners is evident and that is a credit to the OU coaching staff headed by Gasso, who has developed a top five program during her 20 plus years on the Norman campus.

Something will have to give Friday when OU and Alabama play. How well will the Alabama pitching handle one of the nation’s top power teams? Will the freshmen pitchers handle the pressure of playing in their first Super Regional? Who will get a key hit or make an outstanding defensive play to decide a game? These questions and more will be answered when OU and Alabama clash in a Super Regional that will decide a berth to Oklahoma City.

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Florida State Seminoles Defeat UCF 5-0 to Advance to the Super Regionals

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“Florida State Seminoles Defeat UCF 5-0 to Advance to the Super Regionals” Written By Mitch Alexander

The Florida State Seminoles played the University of Central Florida UCF Knights in the championship round of the Tallahassee Regional Tournament. The two played each other in the winner’s bracket in a tight game that had UCF leading through the seventh inning, only to lose by 2-1 with a walk off single the day before. Another close game was expected.

The starting lineup for FSU was: Jessica Burroughs (18-5) in the circle, Macey Cheatham behind the plate, Alex Kossoff in Left Field, Morgan Klaevemann in Center Field, Bailey Schinella in Right Field, Jessica Warren covering third, Maddie O’Brien at short, Ellie Cooper at second, Alex Powers at first, and Victoria Daddis as the designated player.

Klaevemann reached first base with a bunt and a missed throw to the second baseman covering first. Klaevemann stole second as O’Brien struck out. Warren popped out to Left Field. Powers who got the clutch hit in the winner’s bracket game walked putting runners on first and second with two outs. Cooper, the lefty, popped out to Left Center Field, ending the top of the first inning. Burroughs had three up and three down and earned her first strikeout of the game.

In the second inning, Schinella took Turnier deep to the wall in Right Center Field for a double. Kossoff grounded out to third. Daddis, the designated player popped out to the second baseman and then Schinella who didn’t get back to the bag quickly enough was doubled off, ending the top of the second inning. Burroughs gave up a single to shallow Left Field. The next batter laid down a sacrifice bunt moving the runner over to second base. Burroughs got her second strikeout of the game on a curve ball. Kossoff cleanly fielded a popup to shallow Left Field, ending the second inning.

Cheatham popped up a bunt back between the first baseman and the circle and earned a single. Klaevemann earned a double by driving the ball to the Left Center Field wall, which moved Cheatham over to third with no outs. O’Brien, a lefty took the count full and earned a walk, loading the bases with no outs. Turnier got the hook at this point in favor of Audas with a 0.97 ERA. Warren roped one to Left Field, which was caught. Cheatham tagged up and then cleanly scored as the umpire called obstruction on the catcher. Klaevemann advanced to third while O’Brien stayed on first. Powers got hit by a wild change-up on a full count, loading the bases for the second time in the third inning. Cooper who hit back to the pitcher while Klaevemann got tagged out at the plate got a lucky break and was called back due to the ball hitting her foot while still in the box. Cooper popped out to Center Field. Klaevemann tagged up and scored the second run of the inning. Schinella popped out, ending the top of the third inning. Burroughs earned her third strikeout of the game on the first batter of the inning. A ground out to Cooper got the second out. Burroughs earned her fourth strikeout of the game, ending the third inning.

Kossoff went down looking, giving Audus her first strikeout of the day on a changeup. Daddis went down swinging on another changeup, giving Audus her second strikeout of the day, once again on a changeup. Cheatham earned a walk on a full count with two outs. Cheatham then stole second while no one was covering the bag. Klaevemann hit a grounder to third base, who threw the ball away at first. Cheatham scored while Klaevemann took second on the overthrow. Klaevemann stole third on a passed ball. UCF had a conference in the circle with a called timeout. O’Brien earned another walk, putting runners on first and third. Warren then drove the ball to the Left Field wall, which allowed Klaevemann and O’Brien to score, and Warren earned a double, bringing the score to 5-0. Powers popped out with a foul ball to the right side, ending the top of the fourth inning. The first UCF batter grounded out to Warren for the first out. Powers caught a foul ball down the first base line for the second out. Burroughs earned her fifth strikeout on a well-placed curve ball.

Cooper lined to third base for the first out. Schinella popped out to Right Field on a changeup for the second out. Kossoff grounded out to second giving Audus a one, two, three inning. Burroughs induced a popup to Cooper for the first out of the bottom fifth inning. Harris who was subbed into Right Field caught a foul for the second out. Kossoff caught a pop up to Left Field to end the fifth inning.

East pinch hit for Daddis and popped out to Left Field for the first out. Cheatham struck out swinging on a full count, giving Audus her third strikeout of the game. Klaevemann grounds out to short for the final out of the top sixth inning. Klaevemann caught a pop fly to Center Field for the first out. East was subbed in for Powers, who was moved to the designated player position. The second batter grounded out to Cooper for the second out. Cooper fielded another grounder for the third out of the top sixth inning. O’Brien popped out to Center Field. Warren earned a walk. Powers hit a grounder to short, but Warren was forced out at second for the second out. D’Errico was brought in as a pinch runner for Powers, who stole second on the next pitch. Cooper popped out a foul ball on the shallow left side, ending the top of the seventh inning. A ball hit between first and second put a runner on first. UCF advanced to second base on a passed ball. Harris caught a pop fly to Right Field for the first out. Burroughs earned her sixth strikeout of the game while UCF stole third base. East caught a foul ball on the right side ending the game and sending FSU to the Super Regionals.

Next up for FSU is the Super Regionals in Knoxville vs. Tennessee.

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Sooners on the road for Super Regional

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“Sooners on the road for Super Regional” Written By Bill Plummer

NORMAN, Okla.– After winning the Regional softball title Sunday, beating Texas A&M 2-0, the Sooners will be on the road for a change when they compete in the Super Regional and a shot at advancing to the WCWS.

The Sooners will be competing in their sixth straight Super Regional and it will be against a familiar opponent–the Alabama Crimson Tide, which was impressive in winning its Regional. Alabama will be competing in its 11th consecutive Super Regional and enter the event 45-12.
The Tide also owns a 7-3 all-time record against Oklahoma, and beat the Sooners in the 2012 Women’s College World Series championship series.

The Sooners won’t host a Super Regional for the first time since 2011.

“What I like about this Alabama trip is the fact that we are looked at as the underdog,” said OU coach Patty Gasso. “Everywhere we’ve been all year has been everybody after us, so now, we can go in and see what we’re really made of.

“Sometimes the toughest place to play is at home because the expectations are enormous.”
This will be Oklahoma’s ninth appearance in the Super Regionals since the format was introduced in 2005, posting a 10-9 record. The Sooners have reached the Super Regional round in each of the last six years, tying Oregon for the second-longest streak behind only Alabama (11).

Oklahoma is 3-7 all-time against the Crimson Tide with all 10 matchups occurring at neutral sites. Friday’s contest will mark the first time the schools have met on one another’s campus.

This will be the third time in the last four postseasons that the teams will have met. Alabama edged out Oklahoma in three games to win the 2012 National Championship, and last season the Crimson Tide won 6-2 in the teams’ opening game of the Women’s College World Series.

Following Sunday’s 2-0 win over Texas A&M, OU’s three seniors–Lauren Chamberlain, Georgia Casey and Shelby Pendley–were honored in a ceremony on Marita Hynes Field. Each player singled in their final home at-bats.
OU’s senior class reached the Women’s College World Series championship series as freshmen and sophomores, winning the title in 2013.

“Everything that they’ve done has been memorable, and just besides great athletes, they’re just great kids,” Gasso said. “They’re great young women, and I’m so proud of them.”

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Sooners Rally To Top Texas A&M 7-5 In Regionals To Remain Unbeaten

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“Sooners Rally To Top Texas A&M 7-5 In Regionals To Remain Unbeaten” Written By Bill Plummer

NORMAN, Ok. — Erin Miller hit a two-run walk-off homer over the right field fence in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Oklahoma Sooners a come-from-behind 7-5 win over Texas A&M Saturday, sending the Sooners into Sunday’s Regional final. It was Miller’s eighth homer of the season and certainly one to remember.

Who the Sooners will play in the Regional final will be determined later today with Lehigh facing Central Arkansas following this game and Texas A&M facing that winner this evening at 6, the winner facing Oklahoma Sunday.

For while it looked the Sooners would be the team in the loser’s bracket. The Sooners fell behind 1-0,then took the lead 2-1 before A&M scored three times in the second inning and once in the third to take a 5-2 lead. OU cut the deficit to two on Lauren Chamberlain’s solo homer in the third inning over right center. It was her 20th homer of the season and the 92nd of her outstanding career. It was the 15th homer she has hit to right center in her career.

Now trailing, 5-3, OU cut the deficit to one as Georgia Casey hit a solo homer over left field with one out.It was Casey’s third homer of the season and came off A&M starter Rachel Fox, who hurled six innings, allowing six hits. She was replaced by Katie Marks, (13-3),who hurled the seventh inning and had a 5-4 lead entering the seventh.

But OU had the hitters up in the seventh they wanted with Nicole Pendley, Lauren Chamberlain and Shelby Pendley. Nicole walked to open the inning before Marks got Chamberlain to fly out to right field. Shelby then hit a single to center with the center fielder Erica Russell coming up with the ball.She threw to third in an attempt to get Nicole. But the ball bounced off third baseman’s Tori Vidales’ glove and into the OU dugout, allowing Nicole to score easily on the dead ball.

OU winning pitcher Paige Parker fanned for the second out, setting the stage for Miller, who hit the ball just inside the right field foul ball to give OU its 12th consecutive win in Regional competition. The loss even A&M’s record at 1-1 in the regional and 39-19 overall after finishing eighth in the SEC.

Parker, who allowed a career-high five earned runs, started off the game off on the wrong foot when Vidales hit the first pitch of the game over the fence for her 19th homer of the season for an early 1-0 A&M lead. The ball she hit was a curve up in the strike zone and went over the left field fence.

Vidales, only a freshman, was impressive as she hit a two-run double in a Texas A&M second inning. The other run in the inning came on Kristen Cuyos’ one-out homer over the center field fence. It was her 10th homer of the season. The Aggies scored their fifth and final run in the third inning on a solo homer by first baseman Brenna Dozier to right center field, her eighth of the season. Vildales also had single in her third at-bat and finished day three-for-four to lead the losers. Parker settled down the remainder of the game and didn’t allow any hits or runs and only one walk in getting her 26th win of the season and second in the regional.

This is the third consecutive year OU and A&M have met in postseason action. Last year OU beat the Aggies twice to win the regional title including winning a come-from-behind win in the first game with three runs in the seventh and two years ago swept the Aggies to capture the Super Regional. The Sooners are 5-0 in the postseason the last three years against A&M.

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Florida State Seminoles defeat UCF 2-1

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“Florida State Seminoles defeat UCF 2-1″ Written By Mitch Alexander

The Florida State Seminoles played the University of Central Florida UCF Knights in the Winner’s Bracket of the Tallahassee Regional Tournament. The expectation was that this was going to be a pitcher’s duel and a low scoring game. Expectation became reality in this exciting matchup.

The starting lineup for FSU was: Jessica Burroughs (17-5) in the circle, Macey Cheatham behind the plate, Alex Kossoff in Left Field, Morgan Klaevemann in Center Field, Bailey Schinella in Right Field, Jessica Warren covering third, Maddie O’Brien at short, Ellie Cooper at second, Alex Powers at first, and Victoria Daddis as the designated player.

Burroughs had three up and three down in the top of the first inning with her first strikeout of the day. Shelby Turnier (25-6) was in the circle for the Knights and started the inning by striking out Klaevemann. Maddie O’Brien, the walk leader in the NCAA, drew her 69th walk of the season. Warren was also walked. Powers the cleanup hitter hit a line drive to second resulting in a double play ending the inning.

Burroughs induced a popup to the catcher for the first out but walked the next batter for her 14th walk of the season. Using her curve ball, Burroughs earned her second strikeout immediately followed by her third. In the bottom of the inning, Cooper took a full count fly ball to center field for the first out. Schinella also went to a full count and was awarded first base on catcher interference. Kosoff was punched out for Turnier’s second K of the game. Daddis chopped a ball to third which resulted in the third out.

In the top of the third, it was three up and three down with two weak hits to the left side infield and one popup to Left Field. Cheatham bunted in the bottom of the inning but didn’t beat the throw to first for the first out. Klaevemann grounded out for the second out. O’Brien drew her 70th walk of the season followed by another walk to Warren, duplicating the first inning. With two runners on, Powers struck out looking to end the inning.

The first batter popped up to O’Brien, but Burroughs gives up a solo homerun by missing with the backdoor curve to put the Knights on the scoreboard. The next batter took Burrough’s pitch back to the warning track, but the ball was cleanly fielded by Kossoff in Left Field. Warren snagged a popout to third for the final out of the top of the fourth inning. Cooper drove the first pitch to Left Field for a single. Schinella moved Cooper over to second with a sacrifice bunt. Kossoff the lefty slapper with 10 RBI’s on the season drew a walk. Daddis the designated player, was struck out swinging for Turnier’s fourth strikeout of the game. FSU made a substitution putting Harvey in the lineup. Harvey missed the inside pitch for Turnier’s fifth K of the game.

In the fifth inning, Burroughs bobbled a ball resulting in a runner on first, but she quickly regrouped and earned her fourth strikeout of the game. Cheatham threw down to O’Brien covering second and got the put out at second. Burroughs got her fifth strikeout to end the inning. In the bottom half of the inning, Klaevemann hit a grounder to the 5-6 gap and just beat out the throw. O’Brien grounded out to first and Klaevemann just beat out the double play at second. Warren was intentionally walked for her third walk of the game. Powers popped up to the third baseman covering the gap. With two runners on, Cooper grounded out to the second baseman, ending the inning.

A flyout to deep Left Field, grounder back to Burroughs started the sixth inning. A gap hit to shallow Left Field put a runner on base who was able to steal second. A wild pitch by Burroughs put the runner on third. However, the sixth strikeout ends the top of the sixth and strands the insurance run. In the bottom half, Schinella grounded out to second for the first out. Kossoff grounded out to Turnier with a full count. Daddis the designated hitter with a full count earned the walk on the 10th pitch of the at bat. The Seminoles put a pinch runner in for Daddis and also puts Victoria East in as a sub, disqualifying Cheatham, the catcher from returning to the game. East, on a full count, also earned a walk. With two outs and runners on first and second, the Seminoles hit the top of their lineup. Turnier looked visibly upset in the circle and fighting for emotional control as well as strikes. Klaevemann went down with a strike out, stranding two and ending the inning.

Daddis, was brought in behind the plate and Burroughs was relieved by Rosario. A single to Right Field followed by a throwing error put the runner on second in scoring position. On a passed ball, the runner stole third base. Rosario walked the next batter. Rosario was sent to Right Field, and Schinella was brought into the circle with runners on first and third. Schinella got the strikeout on a changeup. Next Coach Alameda loaded the bases with an intentional walk. The infield and outfield were brought in shallow. A grounder to second was thrown home getting the second out. A ground out to second ended the inning. O’Brien started the bottom of the seventh inning, with her 13th homerun over the Left Field fence and tied up the game 1-1. Warren as in her previous at bats, was walked. Powers hit a shot down the first base line into Right Field, scoring Warren to win the game!

Next up for FSU is UCF again in the Tallahassee Regional Championship at 12pm ET. The Seminoles are one win away from Super Regionals, presumably in Knoxville.

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Seminoles Opened The NCAA Tallahassee Regional

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“Seminoles Opened The NCAA Tallahassee Regional” Written By Mitch Alexander

The Florida State Seminoles opened the NCAA Tallahassee Regional Tournament by defeating the Dartmouth Big Green 5-1. The game featured a 3 hour 42 minute rain delay in the third inning. FSU is currently ranked as 9th in the nation and Dartmouth is ranked as the top Ivy League team in the nation.

The starting lineup for FSU was: Lacey Waldrop in the circle , Macey Cheatham behind the plate, Alex Kossoff in Left Field, Morgan Klaevemann in Center Field, Bailey Schinella in Right Field, Jessica Warren covering third, Maddie O’Brien at short, Ellie Cooper at second, Alex Powers at first, and Victoria Daddis as the designated player.

FSU, as the home team kept the Big Green off the board in the top half of the first inning and then came back in the bottom half to open the scoring. Klaevemann got off a clean bunt and made it to first for a single. Warren got on via a walk. Cooper, who was the star of the game singled to Left Field, driving in two runs.

However, things got dicey for the Noles in the second inning when Waldrop gave up a base hit and two walks with only one out. However, Cooper saved the day with an unassisted double play at second. She caught a line drive and then stepped on the bag forcing a second out, the third of the inning.

In the top half of the third inning, Waldrop walked two more batters and another got on due to an overthrow. Waldrop helped herself and forced a grounder back to the circle ending the inning.

After an extended rain delay, the game resumed at a bit past 5:30pm ET. In the top of the fourth inning, Waldrop allowed another pair of walks (6 for the day) and was relieved by Burroughs. With two outs and two runners on, Burroughs gave up a single to the first batter she faced. A runner scored on the hit putting the Big Green on the scoreboard, 2-1. Cooper cleanly fielded a grounder to end the top of the fourth inning. In the bottom half of the inning, Kossoff bunted and made it to first. Klaevemann slammed a beauty for an RBI double improving their score to 3-1.

No excitement in the 5th inning, was quickly followed by some FSU thrills in the sixth. Burroughs retired three in a row. In the bottom half of the inning, Klaevemann got on base with a single and the star shortstop, Maddie O’Brien drove the ball out of the park for a two-run homer. This brought the score up to 5-1.

In the seventh inning, it was three up and three down for the Big Green. Burroughs earned the win improving to 17-5 this season. Rumley took the loss for Dartmouth. Klaevemann was named player of the game.

Next up, FSU advances to face UCF Saturday morning at 10am. The winner of that game advances to the championship which will be played Sunday.

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