Oklahoma softball embarks on its quest for a fifth national championship this week.
The Sooners, ranked No. 4 in USA TODAY/NFCA and ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason polls to start the season, finally released their 2021 schedule on Tuesday.
OU will face 10 programs who made the 2019 NCAA tournament in 2021. Twenty-one contests will take place inside the friendly confines of Marita Hines Field in Norman.
The first battles of the 2021 season will take place on Feb. 11-12 in the Wildcat Invitational, which was originally scheduled to take place in Abilene, TX, but has been moved to El Paso, TX, due to the freezing temperatures sweeping the nation this week. OU will play the UTEP Miners and Abilene Christian University twice each over the course of the invitational, with the seasons’ first pitch coming on Thursday at 11 a.m. against the Miners.
Oklahoma will also participate in the Arizona State Tournament in Tempe, where they will match up with No. 15/16 Arizona State on Feb. 26, and New Mexico.
Patty Gasso’s team will open play in Norman on March 5-7 when they will host No. 23/24 Missouri, Sam Houston State and Louisiana Monroe in OU’s yearly tournament.
Newly renovated USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City will play host to OU on March 12-13, as the Sooners face Houston and Liberty.
Oklahoma also hosts a three-game series against the Mexican national team, featuring current Sooner Nicole Mendes, on March 19-21 before opening Big 12 Conference play.
Big 12 play will consist of a three-game series against each Big 12 foe, starting off in Ames against the Iowa State Cyclones on March 26-28.
The first of OU’s marquee conference series, a matchup against the No. 6/7 Texas Longhorns, will take place at Marita Hines Field on April 16-18. The Sooners and the Longhorns were voted the top two teams in the preseason Big 12 polls.
OU football fans have become accustomed to closing the regular season out with Bedlam, and softball will be no different. Gasso’s squad will travel to Stillwater on May 7-9 to cap off the regular season against No. 10/11 Oklahoma State. The series will be the first time three contests in the Bedlam series have occurred in one location since the 1997 season.
In the midst of the conference season, the Sooners will also take a detour to Athens, GA, to play a double-header against the No. 14/14 Georgia Bulldogs. This will only be the sixth matchup in program history against the SEC foe, who has made the Women’s College World Series four times in their history, all since 2009.
Seating capacity at Marita Hines Field will be limited to 25 percent to start the season, and masks will be required at all times by those in attendance.