NORMAN — Oklahoma is rolling into Super Regional weekend for the 12th straight NCAA Tournament.
Patty Gasso’s top-seeded Sooners dominated the Norman Regional. OU (52-2) outscored its opponents 37-2, bouncing back from a narrow 3-2 win over Texas A&M with a 20-0 romp of the Aggies on Sunday afternoon.
Oklahoma stormed through regional play without true freshman phenom Jordy Bahl taking the circle, as the Big 12 Co-Pitcher of the Year and Big 12 Freshman of the Year still battled through arm soreness.
After the Sooners’ blew out Texas A&M on Sunday, Gasso said Bahl was progressing toward a return to the field.
How to Watch Oklahoma vs. UCF:
- Game 1: Friday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2
- Game 2: Saturday, 1 p.m., ESPN
- Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, time and broadcast details TBD
“We needed to give Jordy this weekend off,” Gasso said. “She is doing some movement, and we are just going to remain hopeful that she’s going to be ready to go (for Super Regionals).”
Ahead of this past weekend’s regional, Gasso said Bahl’s workload at practice was “very, very, very light” if anything at all, so the pitcher working through some movement does represent progress.
This season, Bahl is 21-1, posting an outstanding 0.95 earned run average across 132 1/3 innings pitched. The true freshman leads the team in strikeouts, and has only surrendered only four more walks (29) than Nicole May (25).
Bahl hasn’t pitched since the Bedlam series, which closed out the regular season.
In the absence of the pitching staff’s ace, both Hope Trautwein and May have excelled in the circle.
Jordy Bahl hasn't pitched for the Sooners since May 6
The true freshman was named the Big 12 Co-Pitcher of the Year and the Big 12 Freshman of the Year
Bahl leads the Sooners with 199 strikeouts this year while only allowing 63 hits and three home runs
Oklahoma has played six games without Bahl dating back to the regular season finale, and the Sooners have only allowed nine runs. Six of those nine runs came in two games against Oklahoma State, where one of those outings resulted in a loss in the Big 12 Championship Game.
In regional play, Trautwein and May combined to surrender just one walk across the three games, and Trautwein gave up a two-run home run against Texas A&M to represent the only runs allowed all weekend.
Heading into Super Regional play, the UCF offense doesn’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of opponents.
The Knights are hitting .300 on the year, which ranks just inside the top 40 in the country. Additionally, UCF has only hit 41 home runs this season, as the Knights are more reliant on small ball to bring runners across home plate.
But the Sooners still don’t want to head the 28 miles north to Hall of Fame Stadium without Bahl experiencing postseason play.
Gasso has cited time and time again the importance of feeling the pressure of postseason play. The OU coach even went so far as to insert Trautwein into the fifth inning to close out the Sooners’ tournament opener against Prairie View A&M despite May sitting on a no-hitter because she wanted the North Texas transfer to settle into the postseason environment.
If the Oklahoma bats stay hot this weekend, it won’t matter much who is in the circle for the Sooners.
But the return of Bahl would be a boon for OU, as all hands will be on deck in Oklahoma City to nab the program’s sixth Women’s College World Series crown.
Want to join the discussion? Click here to become a member of the AllSooners message board community today!
Follow AllSooners on Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest OU news.