Berth in WCWS on line in Norman Super Regional Written By Bill Plummer
In a rematch of last year's No. 1 and No. 2 finishers from the Women's College World Series, Oklahoma (48-10) and the University of Tennessee Lady Vols (45-10) will meet Friday evening at 6 at Marita Hynes Field in the Norman Super Regional, one of eight NCAA Super Regionals scheduled this weekend. A second game will be played Saturday at 4 with an if necessary game to follow if the teams split the first two games.
Unlike last year when OU and Tennessee battled for the national championship, this year the two outstanding teams wil vie to decide which team goes on to compete in the Women's College World Series. The two teams have met five times in the past and Tennessee holds a 3-2 edge with both of the losses coming in the best-of-three championship series last year.
This Super Regional will be a best-of-three series and this is the fourth time OU has hosted a Super Regional since the format was introduced in 2005. OU has won six straight Super Regional games, sweeping Arizona in Tucson in 2011 and 2012 and taking both games against Texas A&M last season. All-time, Oklahoma is 8-8 in this stage of the postseason. This is the third consecutive Super Regional for the Lady Vols and seventh overall. They have an all-time Super Regional record of 12-3.
Tennessee, which was rated No. 1 in the preseason, has an outstanding pitcher in Ellen Renfroe, who has fanned 235 batters in 221 innings and has an ERA of 1.93 in compiling a 29-6 record. She, however, has allowed 18 homers. She has one of the nation's offenses giving her support as the Lady Vols have a team batting average of .320 hitting 79 homers. Shortstop Madison Shipman leads the team with a .431 batting average plus has hit 18 homers and driven in 54 runs. The Lady Vol home run leader is freshman catcher Annie Aldrete who has smashed 19 homers and driven in 64 runs.
“Tennessee is always going to be a name that is going to live in our history,” said OU coach Patty Gasso to the Norman Transcript “They have expectations that they should; they return their pitcher and SEC Player of the Year in [Madison] Shipman. They’re a strong team, well-coached and have the experience that we have. It’s going to be a great super regional.”
OU is seeking its fourth consecutive trip to the WCWS and the Sooners are playing their best softball of the season, winning their last 15 games in a row after coming from behind to defeat Texas A&M 9-8, then pouring on the offense in the title game for a 11-6 win. Destinee Martinez led the Sooners during the regional, getting eight hits in 12 at-bats for a .666 batting average.
Stanford transfer Kelsey Stevens hurled two of the three Sooner victories with third baseman Shelby Pendley getting the other win. Stevens is now 35-7 for the season with an ERA of 2.42, but she has allowed more than 20 homers and at times has had control problems, throwing 18 wild pitches. Like Renfroe, she also has an impressive offense and solid defense (.979 fielding percentage) supporting her. The Sooners have hit 80 homers and have a team batting average of .327. Pendley leads the team in batting with a .426 average including 16 homers. Georgia Casey is hitting .366 with 12 homers and Brittany Williams also has hit 12 homers with a .363 batting average.
Bill Plummer A 1973 graduate of Indiana University, Ind. Bill has been involved in softball for more than five decades. For 30 years he was a fixture at the ASA National Office in Oklahoma City as a communications coordinator, manager of the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame and historian.
In addition, he also served as the editor of the ASA official newsletter, The Inside Pitch, and as the Trade Show manager. He has written widely about the sport and has contributed to 14 books. In 2008, he authored “The Game America Plays.” In 2012, he co-authored “Best of the Best-Women’s Fastpitch.” In 2013 he co-authored “A Series Of Their Own”. Visit his website at PlummerSoftball.com.
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