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OU softball: History on the line for Sooners' Super Regional against Clemson

May 25—Just five years ago, when many of the seniors on Oklahoma's roster were still making their college choices, Clemson's softball program hadn't even played its first official game yet.

The school first announced they would be adding a softball team in March of 2017 and didn't play its inaugural game until 2020. With the help of former USA Softball Women's National Team head coach John Rittman, it didn't take long before Clemson became a perennial postseason contender.

This season, they reached their second consecutive NCAA Super Regional and are hoping earn their first ever trip to the Women's College World Series.

Standing in their way is an absolute behemoth.

Top-seeded Oklahoma will host the NCAA Norman Super Regional against the Tigers, needing one more win to tie the NCAA record for consecutive wins in a season with 47. The first game of the best-of-three series begins on Friday at 1 p.m., in what will be a matchup between one the sport's newest programs and one of its newest dynasties.

"This is going to be a battle of two teams that look very similar," OU head coach Patty Gasso said. "We might have a little more power. They might have a little more speed. Here and there we can look different than each other. But very similar."

The game will be televised on ESPN2.

The Sooners have advanced past Super Regionals in each of the last six seasons. They've been even more prolific when they host.

Oklahoma's last home loss in the Super Regionals came in 2014 with 16-3 overall record at Marita Hynes Field.

The Tigers posted an 18-6 record in the ACC this season and are 49-10 overall. A key part of their success has come from the play of junior Valerie Cagle.

Cagle is not only the team's best pitcher, she's also been their best batter. She's averaging .467 at the plate this season (fifth in the country) with 19 home runs (seventh in the country).

In the circle she has a 1.20 ERA with a 25-6 record. Cagle has struck out 186 batters with 32 walks and just six home runs given up all season.

"She is legit," Gasso said. "She is a big-time two-way player, pitcher and hitter."

Meanwhile, the Sooners have showed no sign of slowing down from the historic run that they're on.

They won all three of their regional games by run-rule, scoring double-digit runs in all three games. The back to back defending national champions shutout two of those opponents and they've shutout 32 of the 55 opponents they've faced this season.

"The word we talked about was bold and I felt that they had a very bold presence," Gasso said about regionals. "A very suffocating approach. I felt that if I was an opponent I would feel OU as just almost unstoppable. Felt every part of our game was on point. Very happy with what it looked like this weekend."

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