That’s because two of those freshmen and their teams are facing off in Tuscaloosa beginning at 6 p.m. CDT today to determine which of their teams will make it to the World Series. Alabama is hosting a Super Regional against Oklahoma for the right to make it to Oklahoma City.
For the Crimson Tide, pitcher Alexis Osorio is one of three finalists for the Freshman of the Year Award. For the Sooners, it is pitcher Paige Parker in the final three. (They are joined by Oregon infielder Jenna Lilley). The winner will be announced May 27, the day before the start of the WCWS.
The field in Oklahoma City is being determined this weekend with eight Super Regionals. The double elimination tournament begins Thursday and will be narrowed down to two teams, who will play in a best-of-three series beginning Monday, June 1, to determine the national champion.
That best-of-three format is also used in the super regionals. Following tonight’s game, No. 6 seed Alabama and No. 11 Oklahoma will play at 4 p.m. Saturday. If a third game is necessary, it will be played at 7 p.m. Saturday. The first two games will be televised on ESPN. If there is a third game is necessary it will be aired on ESPN2.
Bama has a record of 45-12, including a 17-7 record in Southeastern Conference games. Oklahoma is 48-7 and was 14-2 in the Big 12.
The Tide comes into the Super Regional from an impressive performance in the regional last week in Tuscaloosa when Bama swept Fairfield and Washington in three games. Alabama outscored the three by a combined score of 28-1, Tide hitters slugging nine home runs in the three games (Haylie McCleney accounting for four of them) while Bama pitching allowed just five hits and one unearned run in the tournament.
Since the concept of the Super Regional was created in 2005, Alabama has been the only team to advance to all 11 Super Regionals. Bama has hosted eight Super Regionals, winning seven of them. This is Alabama’s 17th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament and Oklahoma’s 22nd straight.
Although ranked fifth and sixth in the national polls, Oklahoma was an 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Sooners won the Big 12 title.
Oklahoma probably would be the favorite in a game of Home Run Derby.
Senior infielder Lauren Chamberlain broke the NCAA career home run record earlier this year with her 91st, breaking the 13-year-old record of 90 set by Stacey Nuveman. And Chamberlain isn’t even tops for the Sooners this year. She has 20 and her teammate, Shelby Pendly, has 24.
Alabama has won the last three meetings against Oklahoma and has a 7-3 all-time record against the Sooners. The most memorable was Bama winning 5-4 in Oklahoma City to win the 2012 NCAA championship. That game was interrupted by rain and is remembered for Bama players “dancing” in the rain while Sooners huddled in the dugout. After the rain, the Tide exploded for a four-run inning to win the WSCS.