College softball: Oklahoma faces familiar foe in regional, motivated for a different result
Yes, Oklahoma re-watched its loss to Boston University earlier this season.
The Sooners, as the nation's fourth overall seed, aren't running from it.
They deny frustration over it, calling the defeat a lesson just like any other. Still, there's no doubt they've been eagerly waiting for a rematch.
"Anytime you lose a game to somebody, it's like you just can't wait to get them back," OU coach Patty Gasso said. "We're looking forward to that, in way of getting them back on the field and playing it out. If they beat you again, then they're better than you."
The Sooners (50-3, 18-0 Big 12) have lost to three teams this season, the Terriers (39-18, 15-3 Patriot), Oregon and Arizona. The last two are hosting regionals this week, with Oregon owning the nation's top seed. All season, BU was a black mark on OU's schedule, a reminder of what happens when mistakes are made, including three errors, and players aren't feeling their best.
"Quite a few [were sick], more than half, a lot of starters, a lot of support staff," Gasso said. "It was a mess. We're trusting that's not going to hit us again before we play them."
In her news conference Thursday, BU coach Ashley Waters was quick to point out that OU left 12 runners on, and that "we knew with one swing that could quickly change."
She said her players would never forget beating the two-time defending national champions, while acknowledging the challenge of doing it again.
The #RoadToTheWCWS runs through Norman. #Sooners receive the No. 4 national seed and will host Missouri, Tulsa and Boston University in this weekend's NCAA Norman Regional. #ChampionshipMindset pic.twitter.com/QaqRUx9XYf— Oklahoma Softball (@OU_Softball) May 14, 2018
"We know the odds," Waters said. "That's an incredible team with a bunch of all-americans, who have gotten better throughout the year. We just want to show what we can do."
That attitude worked last time, particularly for pitcher Lizzie Annerino.
The sophomore righty, out of Marist High School in Oak Lawn, Illinois, earned her first career win, overcoming five walks and four hits to throw 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Sooners in relief.
She's not the team's top pitcher, carrying a career 4.55 ERA into Friday's 6 p.m. regional contest. BU's best option has been freshman Ali Dubois, who started all three of the Patriot League tournament games and has a 28-7 record with a 1.77 ERA.
But whoever goes to the circle could learn from Annerino's success.
"She was so composed, and she went out like she didn't know who she was playing," BU shortstop Brittany Younan said. "That was the key. Playing Oklahoma, a pitcher could get a little tense. She came in and acted like she played against them every day."
OU doesn't have the luxury of playing without expectations.
The Sooners are coming off the best regular season in school history and could become the first program to win three straight national titles since UCLA in 1988-90. Plus, they remember how they flirted with disaster last year.
North Dakota State stunned the college softball world, handing OU a nine-inning 3-2 loss in the first round of the Norman Regional. Faced with elimination, the Sooners beat Arkansas 5-3 before run-ruling NDSU in six innings to advance to the regional final.
They needed to beat Tulsa twice and did, pulling out a 10-inning win in the first game before a 3-0 victory in the second. They'd rather not need those heroics this year.
"For us, it's a matter of playing each inning strong and hard and putting together a full and complete game," OU third baseman Sydney Romero said.
This article is written by John McKelvey from The Norman Transcript, Okla. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.