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The Sunflower

Softball wins MVC Tournament, Prepares for Oklahoma in NCAA Tournament

Grant Cohen

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Prior to the 2016 season, Wichita State knew they had the chemistry and the talent to win the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and play in the NCAA tournament.

After clinching their first MVC tournament championship by defeating Southern Illinois and Drake, WSU players and coaches watched in anticipation to see where they would be playing; having clinched a spot with the tournament win, they weren’t worrying about if they were one of 32 teams fighting for an at-large bid.

On Sunday’s Selection Show, WSU found out they will play in the Norman Regional in Norman, Oklahoma, against overall No. 3-seed Oklahoma. Ole Miss and Tulsa are also apart of the Shocker’s NCAA Regional double elimination bracket.

The Shocker’s first pitch against the Sooners will take place at 8 p.m Friday. The game will air on ESPN.

OKLAHOMA

Wichita State is a completely different team now than on their 10-1 loss to OU on April 6. Although freshman Laurie Ann Derrico prevented the game from being a shoutout, junior pitching aces Jenni Brooks and Katie Malone did not throw one pitch in Norman.

Sooner pitcher Paige Parker will make hitting very difficult for the Shockers, not allowing a run 30.1 innings and having a season earned run average of 1.45. Parker pitched four innings against the Shockers during the regular season, giving up only two hits and striking out four batters.

Oklahoma thrives off their scoring, batting .359 on the season. First Team Big 12 members Erin Miller and Shay Knighten give opposing pitchers fits at the plate, with Miller hitting .401 and Knighten hitting .382. Knighten hit a homerun with three RBI’s on April 6 against WSU, while Miller hit a two run double in the Sooners victory over WSU.

The key for Wichita State beating the Sooners, potential seeing them more than once, will be to keep them from scoring. Five of Oklahoma’s seven losses have come when they have scored five or less runs.

TULSA

If there was an opponent that Wichita State was happy to see again, Tulsa fits the Shocker’s bill. WSU defeated the Golden Hurricane twice during the regular season, winning 11-3 in Wichita and 7-5 in Tulsa.

The Golden Hurricane are an efficient batting team, having five players having over a .300 season batting average and hitting .294 as a team. Wichita State’s defense contained Tulsa’s top hitters in Maggie Withee (.378) and Juli Hollingsworth (.352). Withee was held to two hits in six total at bats while Hollingsworth had two hits in five at bats in the two games against WSU.

Wichita State ran Tulsa’s pitching aces off the field in the two regular season games. Caitlin Sill, who had an era of 1.79 on the season, gave up seven earned runs against the Shockers on April 26. Emily Watson allowed 10 earned runs with eight hits in the Shockers home victory on March 30, having a season era of 2.31.

Possibly Wichita State’s second opponent in the NCAA Regional, Tulsa knows the Shockers all too well.

OLE MISS

While the Shockers have not played the Rebels during the regular season, Valley opponent Northern Iowa got to have a look at a potential WSU NCAA opponent. UNI was swept in the season series, falling to Ole Miss 5-0 and 1-0 in two non conference games.

The Rebels are loaded on the offensive end, hitting .291 as a team. Hailey Lunderman leads the way with 73 hits and batting .372 on the year. Elantra Cox follows her, hitting .369 with 59 hits.

Ole Miss is not a power hitting team, with Courtney Seyrett leading the team with hitting five of the team’s 25 home runs on the year. While pitching has a team era of 3.24, it is the Rebel’s defense that helps them win.

The Rebels have a fielding percentage of .977 with only 39 errors committed on the year, ranking second in the SEC behind overall No. 1 seed Florida.

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