AUSTIN (KXAN) — The last time Texas and Oklahoma met on the softball field was for the college game’s biggest prize. While stakes are quite a bit lower this time, it is still the Red River Rivalry and an intense series on the road.
No. 8 Texas takes on No. 1 Oklahoma in a Big 12 Conference 3-game series beginning Friday, and the first game of the series will be at the same park the Sooners beat the Longhorns for the national title last year.
The team will open the series at 6 p.m. Friday at Hall of Fame Stadium at the USA Softball complex in Oklahoma City. The remaining two games will be back on OU’s campus at 11 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
Longhorns head coach Mike White said Wednesday that last season is just that — last season — and that it’s going to be good for his younger players to experience.
“It’s just a great opportunity to face one of the best programs in college softball,” he said. “They seem to just re-load every season, but we’ve been doing well with our team this season. We’re a young team, so this weekend will be a great experience for us.”
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It’s something he said can’t be simulated in practice, but he also doesn’t want to make the moment too big. It’s still the same game they’ve been playing all season, after all.
“To take a line out of ‘Hoosiers,’ it’s the same 43 feet, 60 feet and turn left … you know, those things that don’t really change the game, it’s what we make of it and that’s the most important thing because you can’t practice that,” he said.
Freshman infielder Leighann Goode, who is No. 3 in the country with 52 hits, said the Sooners “put on their uniforms the same way we do.”
“We are just trying to take it as another game and just mentally prepare ourselves,” she said. “We just want to focus on our plan and not get caught up in what everyone else has to say about it.”
While Texas has a terrific offense with the fourth-best batting average in Division I at .351, Oklahoma has been putting up numbers a video game would have trouble tracking. The Sooners lead the country in hitting with a .391 average, .478 on-base percentage, .715 slugging percentage and 8.97 runs per game. They are third in the country with 57 home runs and second with 71 doubles.
Oklahoma’s pitching is just as impressive. They are No. 3 in the country with a 1.00 ERA and they’ve shut opponents out 19 times, tops in the country. Baylor is the only team that has beaten the Sooners this season, 4-3 on Feb. 19 in Waco, and they’ve won 22 consecutive games since then.
Despite the eye-popping numbers the Sooners have compiled, sophomore Katie Cimusz said the Longhorns have to keep a level head about the matchup.
“I think preparation is the same just like any other Big 12 game. The whole conference is really good, but I think knowing it’s the Red River Rivalry, it’s going to be a lot more intense and a lot more technical,” she said. “We just have to go into the weekend knowing we have each other’s back.”