Finally, it’s Bedlam.
And it’s for the Big 12 Championship.
The No. 1-ranked Oklahoma Sooners (40-1 overall, 14-0 Big 12) hit the road to Stillwater for their regular season finale against in-state rival and No. 7-ranked Oklahoma State (39-6, 14-1).
Notwithstanding their dominant run so far, the Sooners still have to take two of three off the Cowgirls to secure their ninth straight Big 12 regular season title.
HOW TO WATCH
- Friday, 6 p.m.: ESPN+
- Saturday, 3 p.m.: ESPN
- Sunday, 11 a.m.: ESPNU
OU head coach Patty Gasso said regardless of the conference title implications, she always looks forward to the Bedlam series.
“Regardless of whether we are going at each other to win the Big 12 Championship … our series will always be that statement game,” Gasso said. “It’s kind of fun that one of the two of us will walk away Big 12 Champions.
“These are the games that make memories.”
For the first time since 1997, all of this year’s Bedlam memories will happen at one site.
Traditionally, the three games are split between Norman, Stillwater, and Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, but Gasso said she and Oklahoma State coach Kenny Gajewski were unable to agree on how to split the series in 2021.
“Personally I’m not a fan of it, but both coaches have to agree that we’ll split,” Gasso said. “I think it’s better for the game in general, I think it’s better for the fans when we can move it around.”
Not only does it save money overall on travel, Gasso said, splitting up the series allows for both programs to generate revenue on ticket sales every season which, for Gasso’s money, makes more sense.
“There’s a lot of advantages that make a lot of sense,” she said. “It just makes more sense for many, many reasons.”
But with the schedule set, Gasso said her team is looking forward to the tournament-style atmosphere awaiting them this weekend.
“We got a little bit of the taste in Georgia, but ultimately you’ve got to get on the field and make the plays,” she said. “I think we are ready and steady for whatever is gonna be there.”
A great Cowgirls pitching staff will also await Oklahoma.
Led by Carrie Eberle, Kelly Maxwell and Logan Simunek, the Oklahoma State pitchers have posted an impressive 1.38 ERA as a staff.
“We know that this Oklahoma State staff is really good so we’re just going to try to prepare as much as possible and just do the best that we can,” Oklahoma junior Grace Green said.
Throughout the series, the OU batters will have to continue to communicate up and down the lineup and be willing to make constant adjustments across the three games, Gasso said.
“They’re a very good pitching staff, there’s no doubt about it. We’ve got to be disciplined,” she said. “It’s just gonna be really great battles.”
Just as the Sooners will have to navigate the Cowgirl rotation, Oklahoma State will have to deal with OU’s record-setting offense.
With OU sporting eight different batters hitting over .400 and four different Sooners who have launched double-digit home runs, Tiare Jennings said she’s relishing the chance to play in the Oklahoma lineup.
“It’s definitely just so much fun passing the bat,” she said.
The Oklahoma bats enter the weekend well rested, too.
After two straight weeks with Tuesday doubleheaders, Gasso’s Sooners had last weekend off.
Traveling for a midweek battle with Wichita State, OU showed no signs of rust, battering the Shockers 14-3.
“Definitely the time off helped,” Jennings said, “just like a reset button mentally and physically.”
To topple the Oklahoma dynasty, OSU will have to overcome OU’s historic dominance of the conference.
The Sooners enter the series riding a 57-game win streak over Big 12 foes in the regular season, last losing a regular season conference battle to Baylor on April 23, 2017. Even more impressive, Oklahoma has won 59 consecutive conference series, dating all the way back to 2011.
“It’s gonna be fun,” Gasso said. “It’s going to make us better one way or another.”
First pitch in Game 1 is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday night, and will be broadcast on ESPN+. Game 2 has been moved forward to 3 p.m. Saturday so it can be broadcast on ESPN, with Sunday’s final game slated for 11 a.m., airing on ESPNU.
“I’m kinda just really excited to experience my first Bedlam,” Jennings said. “I’m ready for it. I’m super excited.”