Texas-Oklahoma Preview

Three things to know about Texas and Oklahoma softball as the two teams prepare to meet for the fourth time this season, this time in the Women's College World Series.

With the Friday's weather issues, Texas's Red River showdown with Oklahoma at the Women's College World Series was bumped to about 1:30 p.m. on Saturday (the start time is dependent on the first game, Washington vs. Tennessee).

Here are three quick hits of information to get you ready for the game.

1) These teams know each other well

As you might expect, the rivals already played each other this season, with Oklahoma (52-4) traveling south to Austin for a three-game series this year. The Sooners won two of the three games, taking the first contest 6-1 and the third game 5-3. Texas (50-8) took the middle matchup by a 4-2 score.

In the first game, Texas pitcher Blaire Luna struggled with her usually fantastic control, walking six batters in four innings. At the same time, Oklahoma pitcher Keilani Ricketts fanned 15. The Longhorns got a break from having to face the Sooner ace in game two, with Luna rediscovering her control and out-pitching Oklahoma's Michelle Gascoigne. Sooner third baseman Shelby Pendley took Luna yard twice in game three, with Texas again facing Ricketts.

Maybe the biggest story from the three contests — other than a team stealing a rare victory from the Sooners — was how Oklahoma was able to hit the typically salty Luna. Luna allowed just 41 earned runs all season in 38 appearances, and nearly a fourth of those earned runs (nine) came in the three-game set against Oklahoma.

At the same time, Texas was responsible for one of Oklahoma's four losses all season, and was one of only two Big 12 teams to defeat the Sooners.

2) By the numbers

The Sooners are considered to be the top team in college softball for a reason. Several actually. First off, Oklahoma can flat-out crush the ball. The Sooners are hitting .338, but more importantly, they're slugging .587, in part because they've hit 90 home runs in 56 games (by comparison, Texas has hit 47 home runs in 58 contests). That pop allows Oklahoma to average 7.91 runs scored per game.

But Oklahoma is no one-trick pony. The Sooners are also incredibly efficient fielders — a .977 fielding percentage is among the nation's best — while they have a team ERA of 1.14, thanks not just to Ricketts, but also to Gascoigne, who actually has the nation's lowest ERA at under-one.

The Longhorns are good at several of those categories as well, though typically behind the boffo Sooner performances. Texas hits .328, and has a nice .411 on-base percentage to go with it, helping Texas score 6.03 runs per game. And the Longhorns have a team ERA (1.57) and fielding percentage (.971) of just below the Sooner high marks.

If there's one thing that Texas does better than the Sooners, it's tear around the basepaths. Texas has nearly double the stolen bases (122 to 65) that the Sooners do, while they're also more efficient at it, with an 81.9 percent safe stealing rate compared to Oklahoma's 79.3.

Still, with a more high-powered offense, and a defense that, at worst, mirrors that of the Longhorns, the Sooners certainly have the edge on paper.

3) Miss America

How good is the talent in Saturday's game? The two teams could almost field a full All-America team by themselves. Seven players — four Oklahoma, three Texas — earned All-America mention this year, with four of those players: Texas has Luna and third-baseman Taylor Hoagland, while Oklahoma counters with Ricketts and first-baseman Lauren Chamberlain. Oklahoma put two other players, third baseman Shelby Pendley and outfielder Brianna Turang on the second team, while Texas shortstop Taylor Thom earned a spot on the third team.

And while the five position players certainly merit watching, this one could come down to the pitcher's duel between Luna and Ricketts. Check out their lines heading into the WCWS:

Luna: 31-5, 1.22 ERA, 11.7 strikeouts per seven innings, .131 opponent batting average

Ricketts: 32-1, 1.18 ERA, 10.5 K/7, .155 opponent batting average

Who will control the game better on Saturday? Both pitchers have the ability to be pretty much unhittable (in fact, both have thrown a no-hitter in one of their last two outings). If that version of either pitcher shows up, then that team has a great chance to move on with a win.

That's especially true for the Longhorns when dealing with Oklahoma's high-powered bats. The Sooners scored three-or-more runs 50 times this season, and won every game. Oklahoma was held to two or fewer runs just six times. The Sooners went 2-4 in those games.

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