The top three teams in the 2013 Big 12 softball standings, headed by conference champion and No. 1-ranked Oklahoma, learned yesterday that their seasons will continue as a result of being selected as three of the 64 teams to compete in the NCAA Softball Championship, which will culminate in the Women’s College World Series may 30-June 5.
Oklahoma solidified its position as the team to be beat in this season’s road to the WCWS by winning its 10th Big 12 softball crown with a three-game road sweep of Bedlam rival Oklahoma State over the final weekend of the regular season. Sooners’ pitchers allowed just one Oklahoma State run total in the three games, and defending USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Keilani Rickets hurled her fifth no-hitter of the year, and the sixth in her star-studded college career, in the series finale on Sunday.
The left-handed Ricketts, who is 27-1 on the year for 47-4 Oklahoma, ended the regular season the same way she started it: with a no-hit game. This season marks the 20th consecutive 20-win season for coach Patty Gaso’s top-seeded Sooners. OU will host its own NCAA regional, where it will be host school to Marist, Fordham and Arkansas this coming weekend. The Sooners’ opening opponent will be Marist.
The Lady Longhorns of Texas, the second-place finisher in the conference standings this season, will also serve as host of one of the 16 regional sites. The sixth-ranked Horns (44-8, 14-4) in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, will be joined by Army, Houston and South Carolina. Texas will begin regional play on Friday against Army.
Third-place Baylor, ranked 16th in the country, will travel to Texas A&M in College Station as one of the four teams that make up that regional site. The Lady Bears will play Arizona on Friday. Host Texas A&M will go up against Pensylvania.
The winners of the NCAA Division I softball regionals advance to the Super Regional round the following weekend, and the winners of the Super Regionals goes to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.