Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

February 28, 2014

OU softball ready to play at home

NORMAN — The Sooners are more than ready to play a game at home after three weeks on the road, and it’ll come a day earlier than expected.

No. 13 Oklahoma will open its home season with a 3:30 p.m. double-header against Arkansas Pine Bluff, and will play another two games beginning at 2 p.m. on Saturday against No. 15 Nebraska.

The Sooners moved to 10-5 on the season after a 4-1 showing at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic last weekend, and coach Patty Gasso is pleased with the way the revamped Sooners roster is progressing.

“Each weekend we’re playing a little better,” she said. “A lot of it is getting opportunities for athletes who haven’t had many. There’s a lot of people in roles they haven’t had before.”

That includes catcher Whitney Ellis and pitchers Georgia Casey and Kelsey Stevens, all of whom are playing prominent roles at OU for the first time. All three have shown steady improvement as the Sooners adjust to a new battery for the first time in four years.

“The word is consistency,” Gasso said. “You’ve just got to give them time to get it figured out. For the first three weeks we’ve tried to be patient and supportive of what they’re doing. We had a really good weekend in Palm Springs. Defensively Whitney Ellis has been phenomenal, and she’s getting better with every at-bat. The pitchers still have a lot of work to do, but I think we’re starting to get some things figured out.”

The Sooners, who began the season ranked No. 2 after their national championship a year ago, brought back plenty of talent on offense but have struggled to find a steady rhythm this season. They’re hoping returning home to play in Norman will change things.

“You go into that third week and you get a little road weary,” Gasso said. “We’ve been waiting for this for a while. We’re excited to play at home and to be back in front of our fans.”

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