Softball more than prepared for Norman Regional

Grant Cohen

Wichita State head coach Kristi Bredbenner said the program schedules some of the toughest non conference opponents for one reason: to prepare themselves for the NCAA tournament.

As the Shocker’s name was revealed in the Norman, Oklahoma Regional for a date with No. 3 overall seed Oklahoma, there was more excitement rather than nervous feelings in the Champion’s Club at Koch Arena on Sunday night.

The team’s season goal was to win the Missouri Valley Conference and compete in the NCAA tournament, something they had not been selected for since 2005. Now that the Shockers know their destiny and head into the spotlight on Friday night, WSU has a chance to become the talk of the tournament by upsetting the No. 3 overall seeded Sooners in their first game.

What are the chances of that happening though? Most people would think that Oklahoma would write a sequel to their 10-1 April 6 victory on Friday. Those people obviously do not follow college softball.

While Oklahoma is heading into the NCAA tournament with a 22-game winning streak, Wichita State is also one of the hottest teams heading into the field of 64. The Shockers have won 13 out of their last 14 games, which included their first pair of MVC tournament wins to claim the conference’s automatic bid.

Along with this underlooked streak, a large portion of Wichita State’s 19 losses have come from teams who are competing in the 2016 NCAA tournament. 11 of their defeats have come from teams continuing their season, including games against Missouri, UCLA, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, and Nebraska.

WSU managed wins at Nebraska and Tulsa twice, who they will see again in the Norman Regional as a possible opponent once they are through with OU. The Shockers handled Tulsa well, winning 11-3 in Wichita and grabbing a 7-0 lead in Tulsa before claiming the victory 7-5.

Ole Miss is not one of the powerhouses coming out of the SEC. The Rebels are a consistent team with some stellar defense, but not a team that wins games through power hitting.

In reality, Wichita State could not have asked for a better situation in the Regional round of the tournament. The Shockers are playing in a field that they played during the regular season, seeing two of the three opponents already during that time.

Norman is not a long way from Wichita either. A three hour drive will help attract a lot more Shocker fans as opposed if they were sent somewhere that were a longer drive.

With the Shockers being placed as a four seed, they are the team that has the least to lose. They already reached their goal of having the chance to compete in the NCAA tournament, but their mindset right now is that they can compete with anyone in the country.

Wichita State has proved that this season, even in the defeats. Many will be shocked if WSU’s name is penciled below a Super Regional. But to the people that have followed the Shockers all season long, they know that the best is going to come starting on Friday night.