Press conference after win over Texas
OKLAHOMA CITY — A softball version of David versus Goliath?
Those are roles assigned to Tennessee and Oklahoma, respectively, as the Women’s College World Series championship series begins tonight.
None other than Tennessee co-head coach Ralph Weekly made the assignments, talking on the News Sentinel Sports Page radio show Monday morning on The Sports Animal.
The best-of-three title series starts at Monday (TV: ESPN2, 8 p.m.). Game two is Tuesday (TV: ESPN, 8 p.m.). Game three, if necessary, is Wednesday (TV: ESPN, 8 p.m.).
Oklahoma (55-4) is the No. 1 seed and has run-ruled five of eight postseason opponents, winning by an average margin of 8.6 runs in NCAA play.
The 6-2 win over Washington Sunday night was the closest contest the Sooners have faced.
On the other hand, Tennessee, 8-0 in NCAA tournament play for the first time in program history, knows close.
The Lady Vols beat Washington 1-0 on Saturday and then Texas 2-1 on Sunday to earn the program’s second title-series appearance.
The first was 2007, pitcher Monica Abbott’s senior year. The Lady Vols beat Arizona in the first game, then lost the next two to the Wildcats.
“From the very beginning back in August,’’ pitcher Ellen Renfroe said Sunday night, “our goal was to win a national championship.’’
The Lady Vols (52-10) have at least given themselves a chance to do just that.
Renfroe (19-4) will get the start against the Sooners. She was the winner against Florida on Thursday and Washington on Saturday and pitched the final 2 1/3 innings against Texas. Her ERA in the WCWS is 1.29.
Ivy Renfroe (22-4) is fresh, having pitched just 4 2/3 innings in the WCWS.
In the circle for Oklahoma is Keilani Ricketts (34-1), the two-time national player of the year.
On Thursday, she fired a no-hitter at Michigan, the first WCWS no-hitter since May 31, 2007, when Abbott (against Texas A&M) and Danielle Lawrie of Washington achieved the feat on the same day.
Oklahoma’s offense has overpowered one opponent after another. The Sooners lead the nation in scoring at 7.92 runs per game. Tennessee is third at 6.8.
Lauren Chamberlain hit her 29th home run of the season Sunday night and Ricketts hit her 14th.
The Sooners’ four losses were: 1-0 to Nebraska; 5-1 to Louisville; 4-2 to Texas, and, most recently, 2-0 to Kansas on May 5.
The Lady Vols are the No. 7 seed, but have looked to be the second-best team in the tournament.
“On behalf of Karen (Weekly), Marc (Weekly) and Marty (McDaniel), my staff, for whom all this would not be possible, we love this team,’’ Ralph Weekly said, “and we commend this team for doing what they’ve done.’’
Hot Bats: Lauren Gibson (4-of-7) and Tory Lewis (4-of-8) have been Tennessee’s most effective hitters in the WCWS. Gibson has also walked six times and been hit by a pitch.
Madison Shipman (2-of-11) and Melissa Brown (1-of-9) have struggled a bit, although both have had timely hits.
Melissa Davin is 0-of-5 in her return from a broken hand.
History: Tennessee is 3-0 against Oklahoma, winning twice in 2009 and once in 2010 when Ivy Renfroe got the decision over Ricketts.
Oklahoma lost to Alabama in the championship series last year.