OU enters NCAA Tournament as No. 1 seed, set to host regional

Syndication: The Oklahoman
BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The road to OKC begins in regional play at Marita Hynes Field.

On Selection Sunday, Patty Gasso’s top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners learned that they will enter the 2021 NCAA Softball Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed in addition to hosting the Norman Regional for the tenth consecutive postseason on Friday, May 21.

Joining OU in the Norman Regional field this year will be the Morgan State Bears out of the MEAC, the Texas A&M Aggies out of the SEC and the Wichita State Shockers out of the AAC. As usual, each tier of the tournament will feature a double-elimination format, meaning a team will need to avoid two losses in order to advance to the following round.

This past weekend, Oklahoma earned the program’s seventh Big 12 Tournament crown days after claiming its 12th all-time regular season title.

From the opener, the Sooners have been on the kind of roll that hasn’t been seen before. For perspective, OU currently leads the nation with 526 total runs, 130 home runs, 32 run-rules and 21 shutouts. Top to bottom, this group is deep with power at the plate and elite ability in the field.

Following championship weekend, Gasso’s squad boasts the nation’s most impressive record (45-2 or .957) for any team that has played more than 40 games, is ranked fourth in NCAA Division I RPI and holds non-conference victories over fellow league champs like Portland State (Big Sky), Liberty (ASUN) and Wichita State (AAC). In exhibition play earlier this season, Oklahoma swept the Olympic qualifying Mexico National Team in a three-game series.

Comparing the top three seeds of the tournament, OU went 14-2 against teams ranked inside the top 30 of the RPI, while UCLA (41-4) went 14-4 and Alabama (45-7) went 26-6 against similar competition. Additionally, neither the Sooners nor the Bruins lost to a team outside the top 30, while the Crimson Tide suffered one loss to a team outside the top 30 (South Alabama). Coming into Sunday, there was some speculation that Oklahoma would not be awarded with the No. 1 seed, but the selection committee clearly valued an entire body of work over any singular statistical metric.

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