The Oklahoma women’s softball team was already the unanimous choice in the NFCA Division I poll as the No. 1 team in the country.
After the dominating week the Sooners have had, there are no arguments.
The Sooners (26-1) are riding a seven-game shutout streak, including five in a row at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif., during the weekend. The seven-game streak matches a school record that was originally set between Feb. 23-March 2, 2008.
Oklahoma had entered the tournament leading the nation with an 0.80 ERA, and then proceeded to hold opponents scoreless for 29 innings, lowering the team’s ERA to 0.67.
Oklahoma also ran their scoreless inning streak to 40. The last time OU gave up a run was in the fourth inning against Drake on March 8. The stretch includes a 4-0 win against No. 14 Arizona on Saturday.
Senior pitchers Keilani Ricketts and Michelle Gascoigne have been equally outstanding in the circle for the Sooners.
Ricketts capped off the week with her fourth consecutive shutout – and 11th of the season — in a 9-0 victory against Cal State Fullerton on Sunday. She tallied 10 strikeouts in the win for her eighth double-digit strikeout performance of season. In the shutout streak, Ricketts has fanned 32 batters in 22.0 innings, while improving to 14-0 on the year.
Meanwhile, Gascoigne has been just as effective. In an 8-0 five-inning victory against Penn State on Sunday, Gascoigne earned her sixth shutout of the season, while striking out 11 batters for her third consecutive double-digit strikeout total.
During the seven-game streak, opponents are hitting .098 against the Sooners, managing just 13 hits. Oklahoma has given up just five walks and hit two batters during the stretch.
The Oklahoma offense has also done their part during the seven-game span, batting .358 and averaging 8.0 runs per game. The Sooners have hit 14 home runs and walked 44 times in the last seven contests.
• The defending NCAA champion Arizona baseball team opened Pac-12 Conference play with a three-game losing skid as the No. 21 Wildcats were swept by No. 4 Oregon State during the weekend. It was the first time in school history the Beavers posted a sweep against the Wildcats in Tucson. Jake Rodriguez drove in a career-high five runs to spark the Beavers’ 8-4 defeat of Arizona on Sunday. It is the second consecutive year Oregon State has opened Pac-12 play with a road sweep.
• The No. 1 Minnesota women’s hockey team survived a triple-overtime battle with North Dakota on Saturday as junior Kelly Terry lifted the Golden Gophers to a 3-2 victory and a ticket to the 2013 Women’s Frozen Four. In the sixth meeting between the two teams this season, Terry’s goal with 1:09 remaining in the third overtime finally ended the epic clash that was the Gophers’ longest game in school history. Minnesota also extended its NCAA-record winning streak to 47 games as the Gophers advanced to their second consecutive Frozen Four. The Gophers (39-0) will host the Frozen Four at Ridder Arena on March 22 and 24.
|WINTER CHAMPIONSHIP COVERAGE|
|Denotes completed championships only|
|• DIII Women’s Basketball|
|• DIII Men’s Basketball|
|• DIII Men’s Hockey|
|• DIII Women’s Hockey|
|• DIII Wrestling|
• The UW-Eau Claire men’s hockey team claimed its first NCAA Division III Championship with a 5-3 defeat of Oswego State on Saturday. The Blugolds rallied to score four unanswered goals after falling behind 2-0. Senior Jordan Singer netted the Blugolds’ first goal of the contest, which was also his 100th career point, and garnered Most Outstanding Player for the tournament. UW-Eau Claire became the sixth different Northern Collegiate Hockey Association team to win a national title. The league will disband after this season.
• Elmira senior Lauren Sullivan collected her 11th shutout of the season – a school-record – as the Soaring Eagles nipped Middlebury 1-0 to capture the NCAA Division III Women’s Hockey Championship on Saturday. Sullivan stopped 30 shots as Elmira won its third national title in the 12-year history of the program.
• The No. 3 Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team kept up the dramatics, winning its fourth consecutive game by one goal as the Fighting Irish edged No. 5 Denver 13-12 at the Whitman’s Sampler Mile High Classic on Saturday. The Irish were down 12-10 with 2:25 left in regulation, but goals from Steve Murphy and Sean Rogers tied up the game and forced overtime. Junior midfielder Jim Marlatta netted the game-winning score just a minute into overtime. It was Notre Dame’s third overtime victory and fourth defeat of a top-10 team this season.
“We are unafraid,” Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said. “We have the confidence and poise to make plays when we need to make plays. I just wish we didn’t play all of these one-goal games.”
• While Wartburg dominated the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championship, winning the team title with seven All-Americans, there were a couple surprises during the weekend — most notably unseeded Devin Biscaha of Springfield College, who claimed the 157-pound championship. On Saturday, Biscaha knocked off second-seeded Chris Burdge of Centenary 1-0 to advance to the finals where he upended fourth-seeded Kristopher Krawchuck of Wilkes 3-0. He is the first Springfield wrestler to win a Division III title.
|THE DIGIT||THE 4-1-1|
|1||The Cal Poly women’s basketball team earned its first berth in the NCAA Division I Championship after downing Pacific 63-49 in the Big West Conference Championship on Saturday. With the victory, the Mustangs improved to 21-10, tying a Division I school record for wins. Quinnipiac also clinched the program’s first NCAA bid, winning the Northeast Conference title with a convincing 72-33 victory against Saint Francis (Pa.) on Sunday. The Bobcats are riding a 22-game winning streak heading into the tournament. Wichita State also topped Illinois State on Sunday to claim the Missouri Valley Conference title and the Shockers’ first NCAA postseason berth.|
|32||The Mississippi men’s basketball team won its first Southeastern Conference title since 1981, upsetting No. 13 Florida 66-63 on Sunday. It had been 32 years since the Rebels won a SEC championship. The Rebels have won seven of their last eight games, clinching their first NCAA tournament bid since 2002.|
|34||The No. 1 Alabama women’s gymnastics team handed No. 1 Oklahoma its first loss of the season with a 197.525-196.900 victory versus the Sooners on Friday as the Crimson Tide stretched their home winning streak to 34. The streak includes a 24-0-0 regular season mark and 10-0-0 record as the host of the 2009 and 2011 NCAA Regional championships.|
|115||With a 4-0 victory versus Tennessee on Sunday, the No. 4 Florida women’s tennis team stretched their home winning streak to 115 – the longest active home winning streak by any NCAA Division I women’s team in any sport. The Gators have also won their last 73 home matches against Southeastern Conference opponents.|
|613||Montclair State junior right-hander Alex Hill became the school’s all-time strikeout leader as the Red Hawks concluded their spring trip with wins against Mount St. Joseph and Millikin on Friday. Hill picked up both victories for Montclair State, striking out 17 batters in 10.1 innings pitching. She now has 613 career strikeouts in two-plus seasons with the Red Hawks. Montclair State is 10-0 on the year.|
|700||UNC Wilmington head baseball coach Mark Scalf picked up his 700th career victory on Tuesday as the Seahawks defeated Elon 7-3. After splitting a series with James Madison during the weekend, Scalf improved his record to 701-543-1 in 22 seasons at his alma mater.|
• For the third time in the last six seasons, the defending Division I men’s basketball champion will miss the NCAA tournament as Kentucky did not earn a bid in the 68-team field when the bracket was announced on Sunday. The 2008 Florida squad and the 2010 North Carolina team also missed claiming an NCAA postseason bid one year after those programs had won the national title.
• The No. 3 Indianapolis softball team stretched its winning streak to 13 games after shutting out Drury in a doubleheader sweep on Saturday. The Greyhounds held the Lady Panthers scoreless for 14 consecutive innings behind pitchers Jennifer DeMotte and Morgan Foley in back-to-back contests.
• After opening the week with an upset of No. 2 UC Irvine, the No. 4 Pepperdine men’s volleyball team swept UC San Diego 3-0 on Friday to improve to 12-6 on the season. Scott Rein turned in a stellar performance for the Waves, hitting .812 on the night after knocking down 13 kills on 16 attempts in the contest. It is the fifth-best hitting percentage in the program’s rally scoring era history.
• Cal State East Bay split a four-game series against No. 4 Chico State in Division II baseball behind top-notch pitching performances from Sean Becker and Michael Pope, who both threw complete games on Saturday. The Pioneers have won six of their last eight games, and with a 19-7 overall record have already matched last season’s win total (18-30).
• In a rematch of last year’s Division III baseball national title game, Wheaton College (Mass.) avenged its loss to Marietta College as the No. 3 Lyons downed the No. 2 Pioneers 8-5 on Saturday. Wheaton junior Alec Palioca, who took the loss against Marietta in the championship game last year, held the Pioneers to two runs on five hits in 7.0 innings, while striking out eight batters.
• The No. 5 Lander baseball team is off to the program’s best start in the 16-year history after sweeping a three-game series against Augusta State in Peach Belt Conference action during the weekend.
• The Central Michigan women’s basketball team earned its first NCAA tournament berth since 1984 after downing Akron 86-68 in the Mid-American Conference title game on Saturday.
• The No. 1 USC women’s water polo team used a balanced attack to defeat No. 10 San Jose State as 11 different players scored for the Trojans in the 18-4 victory on Friday. With the win, the Trojans improve to 15-0 on the season.
Follow Amy Farnum on Twitter: @NCAA_Amy