Refreshed after the weekend off, No. 1 Oklahoma hits the road

In their final non-conference game of the regular season, Patty Gasso's Sooners face Wichita State, who’s knocked off Oklahoma State twice this season
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Patty Gasso’s No. 1-ranked Oklahoma Sooners (39-1) hit the road on Tuesday for their final non-confernece game of the regular season.

Getting the weekend off after a busy stretch, OU should be well rested to head north to face the Wichita State Shockers (37-10-1) in a one-off before the season finale against Oklahoma State.

Senior pitcher Shannon Saile told the media last week that the weekend off was well received by the entire team.

Oklahoma leads the nation in virtually every offensive category, launching 114 home runs and totaling a team batting average of .430

Oklahoma leads the nation in virtually every offensive category, launching 114 home runs and totaling a team batting average of .430

“It really does help with our bodies because I know a lot of people were feeling it,” she said.

The Sooners have been on a warpath since dropping their lone game of the season on the front end of their double header at Georgia, as OU has outscored their opponents 70-3 over the ensuing six games.

After the loss, sophomore Kinzie Hansen said she could feel the attitude of the team shift.

“I could just feel a different type of energy like, we’re not going to feel this way again,” she said. “Truthfully it felt like we’re not invincible. We were just coming out and attacking teams right out of the gate.

“After the [loss to Georgia] it was like we can be so much better. It wasn’t a rude awakening, it was just kind of an eye opener that we’ve got so much more work to do to reach the end goal.”

Gasso agreed with Hansen, acknowledging how her team rallied after dealing with their first defeat of the season.

“They were really, really uncomfortable after that game. They did not like the taste of that,” Gasso said. “They did not play well, and they didn’t like getting flat out beat.

“We came back and we talked about it, and that’s why that trip was important. One, to feel what it’s like to get a loss to where you don’t want to feel that again. And that’s sometimes the best motivation.”

Not only has the team responded well, but Gasso said the coaching staff learned valuable information on how to handle the packed schedule Oklahoma will face from here on out.

“[We learned] what we need to do better as a team, as a coaching staff to have them prepared on these short turnarounds,” she said. “If we get into postseason doubleheader situations, I think we are pretty well prepared to know how to help this team get through it.”

Though they aren’t slated to face any doubleheaders this week, the game agains the Shockers kicks off a packed final week leading into the Big 12 Tournament. With a sure to be emotional series with Oklahoma State on the horizon, the Sooners can’t afford to overlook Wichita State.

The Sooner pitching staff ranks seventh in the country with a team ERA of 1.45, and has combined for 21 shutouts, the most in college softball. 

The Sooner pitching staff ranks seventh in the country with a team ERA of 1.45, and has combined for 21 shutouts, the most in college softball. 

The Shockers are 2-1 against the Cowgirls this season, with senior pitcher Bailey Lange picking up the victory on both occasions. Lange is 19-5 this season with an ERA of 2.25, registering 125 strikeouts while only surrendering 48 walks in her 152.1 innings pitched this season.

Wichita State also offers some pop in their plate appearances. Launching 90 home runs on the season, the Shockers rank second in the nation to Oklahoma in home runs.

Oklahoma leads the series with the Shockers all-time by a record of 50-7, posting a record of 14-4 on the road inside Wilkins Stadium.

The two squads squared off in Norman last season, with the Sooners emerging victorious 8-5, having to rally after falling behind in the first inning.

Despite the conference deciding series in Stillwater just three days away, Oklahoma will enter Tuesday’s matchup refreshed.

“We’ve had obviously an off day here or there, but this [past weekend was] really important,” Hansen said. “The mental and physical side is getting built up this weekend, so that’s very important for every single one of us.”

First pitch on Tuesday evening is scheduled for 6 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN+.