The Big 12 Softball Tournament gets underway Wednesday at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, and the Sooners go into the tournament as the second seed and ranked ninth in the country.
Oklahoma will open play Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m against the winner of Nebraska and Iowa State on Field 4 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. OU Head Coach Patty Gasso was on Sports Morning on the Sports Animal this morning with myself and Bob Barry Jr. to talk about the Sooners' chances this weekend.
BBJ: This is a great softball conference isn't it with four teams ranked in the top ten in the country?
PG "Yeah, it is pretty unbelievable. That is the first time that has happened since I have been associated with the Big 12. You can compare this conference with the Pac 10 straight-up. That is for certain because you are starting to see a lot more parity throughout the country."
JH: How are the Sooners playing as you go into this tournament?
PG: "We are playing better than we played a couple of weeks ago. We are starting to see some people come out of some funks that they were in, which is important. Kami (Keiter) threw really well against Nebraska during our last home conference weekend. It looks like we are starting to pull out of this at the right time. I am expecting some good things from our team."
BBJ: What do you make of the peaks and valley's this team has gone through this season?
PG: "I really don't know, but I wish we had the answer and we wouldn't have to go through all this heartache. That is part of becoming a championship team, knowing how to handle the adversity and struggle. The hardest thing of it all is that it happened late and that is something that we really aren't used to, but it happened all at once so I guess it is better to get it all out of your system at one time.
"We had seven of our nine hitting .200 and below for a couple of weeks, and that is tough to win games that way. Kami also struggled and we always seem to have one part working and the other two weren't. Before, we had two parts working and the other one being good enough that we could win a lot of game.
"The approach that we are taking is that it is a new season and a new beginning. They love the post season so there is a lot to be playing for. We beat ourselves up in the Big 12 as every game was grueling, tough and intense. After this weekend, we can be done with the Big 12, at least for a little while, and look forward to playing somebody else.
"This weekend will be big for us to solidify an opportunity to host a regional and maybe even a super regional. We can do some good things this weekend, and most of all just to get everybody back on track, get the bats swinging, get Kami back into the grove and to play some quality defense. When we have all that going on we are extremely tough to beat."
JH: You have a great group of seniors and upperclassmen who have won a bunch of games for you and who provide great leadership. How do they give you an advantage?
PG: "That is a good point. I was thinking about that. I was thinking that the thing that we have that most teams don't is experience. You can't teach it, you can't do anything about it. You either have it or you don't, and we have it.
"We have some really good leaders here that are going to step up for us. When I say step up, I don't mean much through play, but more by just leading the team in the right direction. The other is experience, and all of our athletes, for the most part, have had the experience of playing in a regional, playing a tough regional and finding a way to win on the road and then ending up in the College World Series. That is a valuable lesson to learn and we have to use that to our advantage."
JH: What do you think of your draw?
PG: "Anything that you get is tough. For Nebraska to be a play-in team, for Oklahoma State to be a play-in team, is in incredible. There are no easy teams in the Big 12. You get tough teams no matter who we draw. We have beaten everybody in our league, but we have lost to most everybody. We just need to get hot and play well. I think we will do alright."
Gasso previews the Big 12 Tourney
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