#1 Oklahoma Softball 2017 Preview

Oklahoma Sooners
Overall Rank: #1
Conference Rank: #1 Big 12
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Oklahoma won its second national championship in the past four seasons in 2016 as they outlasted Auburn in three hard fought games during the championship finals. Paige Parker was brilliant in the circle all postseason long and the Sooners were their usual dangerous selves in the NCAA Tournament and they always found a way to come up with clutch hit. Fast forward to 2017 and a very loaded lineup and Parker returns for head coach Patty Gasso, which makes Oklahoma the clear number one team to start 2017.
2016: 57-8, 17-1
2016 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Patty Gasso
Key Departed Players:
Erin Miller, OF, .378 BA, 9 HR, 52 RBI
Kady Self, IF/OF, .345 BA, 4 HR, 25 RBI
Kelsey Stevens, P, 82.2 IP, 3.56 ERA, 40 BB, 95 SO
Key Returning Players:
Shay Knighten, IF, .397 BA, 13 HR, 62 RBI
Kelsey Arnold, IF, .382 BA, 0 HR, 8 RBI
Faie Aivu, OF, .355 BA, 8 HR, 50 RBI
Caleigh Clifton, IF, .351 BA, 5 HR, 39 RBI
Sydney Romero, IF, .346 BA, 10 HR, 39 RBI
Nicole Pendley, OF, .321 BA, 8 HR, 40 RBI
Lea Wodach, C, .315 BA, 7 HR, 32 RBI
Paige Parker, P, 252.1 IP, 1.64 ERA, 68 BB, 269 SO
Oklahoma is going to defend a national championship and get everybody‚Äôs best shot, starting with the opener on February 9th against Auburn. There is no better way to combat this challenge than having arguably the best pitcher in the sport in Paige Parker. Parker had pinpoint control all year long last season walking just 68 batters in 252.1 innings and limiting opposing hitters to a .194 batting average. In the decisive game three of the championship finals against Auburn, Parker was outstanding against the explosive Tigers offense, limiting them to just one run, five hits and one walk. Offensively, Shay Knighten, and Sydney Romero are going to be in the mix for national player of the year honors. Knighten and Romero combined for 23 homeruns and 101 runs batted in last season and are primed for even bigger seasons in 2017. Nicole Pendley, Caleigh Clifton and Faie Aivu are going to provide a great mix of hitting for high average, power and speed that makes it very difficult for opposing pitchers to deal with. Lea Wodach will have the challenge of managing the rest of pitching staff besides Parker and maintaining her quality offensive numbers from the 2016 season. If Wodach can hit around .315 to .320 and hit for some power, it will be a huge asset for the Sooners.  The schedule early on will provide plenty of challenges with games against Auburn, Nebraska, Washington, Notre Dame, UCLA and Tennessee, but the bottom line is that Oklahoma should be a host for both Regionals and Super Regionals and make it back to Oklahoma City to defend their national title.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament


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