Love's Field makes postseason debut at Norman Regional

May 17—Last week's march through the Big 12 tournament appeared to mark a return to form for three-time defending national champion Oklahoma.

But the Sooners' postseason journey has only just begun, and every game will start to take on more meaning starting at the Norman Regional this weekend. The Big 12 tournament champs will also be carrying a chip on their shoulder after being selected as the No. 2 national seed behind rival Texas.

Oklahoma begins the Norman Regional on Friday at 7 p.m. at Love's Field against Cleveland State on ESPNU. Oregon and Boston University will play in the earlier game at 4:30 p.m.

The regional tournament is double elimination and the winner of the two games will meet on Saturday at 2 p.m. The loser of that game will turn around and play again at 7 p.m.

The Sooners have won their last 10 regional games (all at home) and have advanced to super regionals in 18 out of the 20 seasons they've hosted.

Here are three things to watch over the weekend:

1. Breaking down OU's opponents — Oklahoma's first-round opponent will be making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2009. Cleveland State closed out the season winning five of its last six and has allowed just nine runs over that span.

Boston University will enter the regional with nation's best winning percentage (52-4-1). The Terriers are ranked No. 1 nationally in shutouts, earned run average and are third in fielding percentage.

Boston's Kasey Ricard has an ERA of 1.20, which is tied for fifth nationally. The sophomore has allowed just 35 runs in 204.2 innings pitched and has pitched 15 shutouts, which is five more than any player in the Division I softball this season.

Meanwhile, senior Allison Boaz is 15th nationally in ERA (1.41) and has pitched five shutouts.

Oregon has had an up-and-down season, but has several talented players led by shortstop Paige Sinicki. The junior was named the Pac-12's Co-Defensive Player of the Year.

Outfielder Ariel Carlson is third in the Pac-12 in home runs with 15 and was named to the all-conference first team.

Oregon head coach Melyssa Lombardi and assistant coach Sydney Romero both played at Oklahoma. Lombardi spent 21 seasons on Patty Gasso's coaching staff from 1997-2018.

2. Love's Field postseason debut — Oklahoma softball's new home will host an NCAA regional for the first time this weekend.

The Sooners are 19-4 at home this season. One notable absence from the postseason experience will be the Home Run Village.

Since 2021, fans were encouraged to attend a free event outside Marita Hynes Field that allows those without a ticket to still be a part of the postseason atmosphere. No plans have been announced to revise the Home Run Village at Love's Field yet.

3. Looking ahead — The winner of the Norman Regional will be matched up with the winner of the Tallahassee Regional hosted by Florida State. The Seminoles faced the Sooners in the Women's College World Series final last season.

Still, they'll face a tough regional against Auburn, UCF and Chattanooga.

Tarik Masri is the sports editor for The Transcript covering OU athletics and area sports. You can reach him by emailing