#1 Oklahoma Softball 2018 Preview

Oklahoma Sooners
Overall Rank: #1
Conference Rank: #1 Big 12
 Oklahoma Logo
Oklahoma heads into the 2018 season looking for its third consecutive national championship. The Sooners had some bumps in the road early in the 2017 season, but they got better as the season went along and defended their national championship. Patty Gasso and her staff have built a program that is the gold standard of the sport and with the Women’s College World Series held every year in Oklahoma City, it is going to take a heck of performance by another team to end this run of dominance.
2017: 61-9, 17-1
2017 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Patty Gasso
Key Departed Players:
Macey Hatfield, UTIL, .263 BA, 3 HR, 25 RBI,8 SB
Key Returning Players:
Nicole Mendes, UTIL, .408 BA, 7 HR, 24 RBI, 21 SB
Shay Knighten, IF, .358 BA, 11 HR, 70 RBI, 9 SB
Caleigh Clifton, IF, .356 BA, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 19 SB
Sydney Romero, IF, .339 BA, 12 HR, 59 RBI, 15 SB
Faie Aviu, OF, .327 BA, 5 HR, 51 RBI
Nicole Pendley, OF, .323 BA, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 8 SB
Kelsey Arnold, IF, .265 BA, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 10 SB
Lea Wodach, C, .159 BA, 0 HR, 9 RBI
Paige Parker, P, 1.43 ERA, 26-5 W-L, 210.1 IP, 47 BB, 262 SO
Paige Lowary, P, 1.53 ERA, 16-3 W-L, 146.2 IP, 33 BB, 122 SO, 11 SV
Mariah Lopez, P, 2.08 ERA, 18-1 W-L, 101.0 IP, 18 BB, 109 SO
The Sooners will be able to ease their way into the 2018 season as their schedule is not daunting at all in the first two weeks of the season. Week three out in Palm Springs will provide Oklahoma with a few tests as they will play Arizona State, North Carolina, BYU, and Arizona. Tulsa, Oregon, and Oregon State also highlight the out of conference slate for the Sooners. Offensively, Oklahoma is loaded as Nicole Pendley, Sydney Romero, and Shay Knighten are lethal when it comes to hitting the ball out of the ballpark. Caleigh Clifton and Nicole Mendes provide a nice mix of power and speed. The entire pitching staff returns this season, led Paige Parker and Paige Lowary. These two combined to go 42-8 last season and did a great job of attacking opposing hitters. For example, Parker struck out 262 batters, while only walking 47 in 210.1 innings of work. Lowary walked just 33 batters in 146.2 innings and did an outstanding job of closing out games late as she picked up 11 saves last season.  Mariah Lopez is back as well this season in the circle for the Sooners and will be looking to build off a strong 2017 season where she went 18-1 with a 2.08 earned run average while striking out 109 batters in 101 innings pitched. Bottom line, if Oklahoma stays healthy and, more importantly, focused all season long, they should have a very clear path to the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. Look for another trip to the Women’s College Series for the Sooners as they are strong favorites to three-peat this season.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament
Madness 2018 Draft Rankings:
#1 Paige Parker