, Muskogee, OK

May 30, 2013

Historical greatness is OU’s for the taking

Phoenix staff, wire report

— OKLAHOMA CITY — Neither baseball nor softball are that interesting on the surface. Go deeper and you can get lost in the game, the season and all the timelessness only the diamond seems to own.

In the moment, i’ts pretty simple. Really, “Bull Durham” got it right.

“You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball.”

There are subtleties, but they’re hard to get at in a simple question and answer session.

Oh, well.

Wednesday was press conference day at the Women’s College World Series, which begins today when Nebraska and Washington get things rolling at 11 a.m., though folks around here are much more interested in the 8:30 p.m. game, Michigan and Oklahoma.

Coaches, other than Patty Gasso, were asked if OU was very clearly the team to beat or is the WCWS inherently wide open, it being eight great teams and all.

Gasso was asked how she would use Keilani Ricketts and Michelle Gascoigne in the circle.

Parity was discussed.

Arizona State coach Clint Myers made the point it’s not just about the eight teams in Oklahoma City, but the entire field of 64, almost like it’s the NCAA basketball tournament and a No. 14 can beat a No. 3, you just don’t know.

They’re not bad questions, but you can only take them so seriously.

Because it is the Sooners’ World Series to lose and it really is that simple. Because Gasso is going to ride the nation’s best pitcher, not her other pitcher, to the national championship unless the nation’s best pitcher unravels and her other pitcher, maybe one of the nation’s best 10 pitchers, must do the job.

Because even with parity — an interesting observation, and not a bad one given four different conferences represented by two teams each rather than the Pac-12 taking up more than half the field, it is still the Sooners on one side and the rest of the nation on the other.

OU scores more run than anybody else and allows fewer runs than anybody else.

Any questions?

Gasso said, “You’ll see them both,” referring to Ricketts and Gascoigne, and she’s probably right about that because there will likely be moments she can rest Ricketts just to rest her, the lead plenty big, and hand Gascoigne the ball to finish.

Before regional play began, it was suggested the only ticket to a better than disappointing season was a Sooner national championship.

Since that time, OU has won five straight games, racked up double-digit runs four times, played a full seven innings only once and outscored opponents 59-8. Kick out the May 18 regional victory over Arkansas and the Sooners have outscored opponents 49-3.

One of the beauties of this team is it isn’t all on Ricketts’ shoulders, because she has an offense that can rake and a back-up arm that can take over if she’s losing her mind.

Still, she became a two-time national player of the year Tuesday and she’s still missing a national championship. Last year should have been her time and it wasn’t. This time needs to be her time.

In many ways, there is little new to say about this band of Sooners. They’ve been so dominant, it’s all become very elementary.

They’ll be an historically great team that fulfilled its promise or an historically great team that did not.

The list of incredible teams and overwhelming favorites to finish short of a title is always a fun one to reference.There’s the 1969 Colts, Phi Slamma Jamma Houston basketball, 1983 Nebraska football, unbeaten UNLV falling to Duke at the 1991 Final Four and Bash Brothers Oakland, swept by the Reds, at the 1990 World Series.

Fun to think about, not to be on.

OU should not be on it.

The Sooners have been far too good and too deep and too strong and too undaunted and even too relaxed to fall short of their national championship hopes.

Just go play.

It should work out.