The Norman Transcript

March 28, 2012

Timing of rivalry game could be a bonus for Sooners

By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — If Oklahoma is going to lose a game, coach Patty Gasso would prefer that the Sooners do it on Sundays.

“We want to sweep every series,” the coach of the seventh-ranked Sooners said. “But if you’re going to take a loss I would rather it be on Sunday because we know how to rebound ferociously from a loss.”

It may sting a little less that Oklahoma’s last game, a 1-0 loss to Baylor, came on Sunday, a month to the day since the Sooners last tasted defeat. And that could spell bad news for Oklahoma State (16-12, 1-2), which meets Oklahoma (26-4, 2-1) for the first Bedlam clash of the season at 7:30 p.m. tonight at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. It’s the 141st meeting between the two teams, and the series is knotted at 70 wins apiece heading into tonight.

Oklahoma State is coming off a 2-1 series loss against Kansas and is 3-3 in its last six games. The Cowgirls are led at the plate by Tamara Brown, who is batting .359 for the season, while Kat Espinosa paces the pitching staff with a 1.94 ERA. Oklahoma counters with the pitching duo of Keilani Ricketts and Michelle Gascoigne, who rank third and fifth nationally with 11.3 and 10.8 strikeouts per seven innings.

Gasso was pleased but not thrilled with the way her squad played in Waco in the conference opener for both schools, and wants to see more energy from the team against the Cowgirls. The Sooners looked rusty against Baylor, which was a byproduct of a week off during Spring Break and a string of rained-out practices after the Sooners returned to campus, she said.

“We usually play somewhere during Spring Break, but we didn’t this year and we lost probably four days due to everything that happened,” Gasso said. “We were flat on Sunday, both pitching and at the plate. They [Baylor] came out with a mission on their minds, and we didn’t have that same mission.”

The trip to Baylor was also the first true road games Oklahoma has played this season, and the first time the team’s prolific freshman class has faced a hostile crowd. It’s an intense atmosphere similar to what the Sooners will experience when they face off against OSU tonight.

“I’m going to need good leadership,” Gasso said. “After the World Series last year, they’ve been in bigger venues than this. The freshmen handled the atmosphere at Baylor well, so I’m not worried how it will affect them against Oklahoma State.”

Corbin Hosler 366-3528 chosler@normantranscript.com