Leading Off The Omaha softball team heads south this weekend for four games at the OU Tournament, March 10-12, in Norman, Okla. The Mavericks open play on Friday, March 10 against defending national champions Oklahoma at 6 p.m. UNO plays Illinois-Chicago and Oklahoma on Saturday, March 11, before wrapping up play against UIC on Sunday. When available links to live stats, audio and video will be posted on OMavs.com.
Quick Hits • Omaha is 7-11 (0-0 Summit League) overall after a 3-2 weekend at the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah. • UNO plays Illinois-Chicago and defending national champion Oklahoma twice at the OU Classic. • Last weekend, Omaha went 5-for-6 in stolen base attempts. Senior Lia Mancuso swiped two bases, while senior Lizzie Noble, freshman Emma Dargy and freshman Emily Klosterman each stole one bag. • Senior Nicole Warren led the Mavericks at the plate last weekend, batting .429 with a double, two runs scored and three RBI. • Noble hit .421 last weekend with five runs and eight hits. She also was perfect in the field with six putouts. • Dargy went 6-for-15 at the plate with five RBI at the Red Desert Classic. • Sophomore right-hander Laura Roecker picked up Summit League Pitcher of the Week honors on Monday for her pitching performance last weekend. • Roecker went 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA and allowed only one unearned run on six hits. • Mancuso and Pattison lead UNO this season with five multiple hit games, while Kinney leads the team with four multiple RBI games. • Mancuso has a team-best three-game hitting streak, while Mancuso and Warren have reached base in three consecutive games. • DJ Sanchez is in her first year leading the Omaha softball program. • The Mavericks open the year with 29 straight road games. • UNO returns eight letter winners, including four position starters: Lia Mancuso, Kelly Pattison, Nicole Warren and senior Lizzie Noble. Two starting pitchers also return with senior right-hander Abbie Clanton and sophomore right-hander Laura Roecker. • Three All-Summit selections highlight the Mavericks’ returning corps: Mancuso, Roecker and Warren. • Omaha was picked second in the Summit League preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Scouting the Illinois-Chicago Flames Illinois-Chicago enters the weekend with a record of 9-9 (0-0 Horizon League) after a 1-0 loss to Murray State last Sunday. The Flames went 0-4 at the Coach B Classic in Carbondale, Ill., falling to Northern Illinois (6-1), No. 19/21 Kentucky (6-2), Western Illinois (1-0) and Murray State.
Lexi Watts leads the team with a .390 batting average with two triples and six RBI. Jasmine Willis has the team lead with one home run, while three different Flames have eight RBI. Five different pitchers have thrown this season for the Flames; Elaine Heflin has a team-best five wins with a 1.57 ERA and 44 strikeouts. Karissa Frazier is 3-4 with a 1.17 ERA in 42 innings with 12 strikeouts and 27 walks.
Head coach Lynn Curylo is in her first season at UIC with a 9-9 record and is 156-197 in seven seasons. Saturday’s meeting will the third all-time meeting between Omaha and Illinois-Chicago. The Mavericks lead the series 2-0 and won the last meeting 2-0 in 1988.
Scouting the Oklahoma Sooners Oklahoma is the defending national champions and enters the weekend with a 15-4 (0-0 Big 12) record after a 2-1 win over Western Kentucky last Sunday. The Sooners went 5-0 at the Courtyard Marriott Tournament in Norman last weekend, defeating Northwestern State (3-0) and picking up two wins against Evansville (13-3/5-4) and Western Kentucky (9-0/2-1).
Caleigh Clifton leads the team with a .444 average with four RBI, seven doubles and seven stolen bases. Nicole Pendley is hitting .381 with six home runs and 16 RBI. Paige Parker is 5-3 on the year with 66 strikeouts and a 2.05 ERA in 54.2 innings of work. Mariah Lopez is a perfect 5-0 with a 2.25 ERA, while Paige Lowary is 4-1 with a 2.53 ERA.
Head coach Patty Gasso is in her 23rd season at the helm of the Sooner program and has a 1,100-317-2 career mark. Friday will be the third all-time meeting between Omaha and Oklahoma with the Sooners holding a 2-0 series edge. OU won the last meeting 4-0 in 1983.
Briefly: Red Desert Classic Omaha will play four games at the OU Tournament in Norman, Okla. The Mavericks will take on Illinois-Chicago and Oklahoma twice.
Here is a quick look at Omaha’s opponents:
Illinois-Chicago – 9-9 (0-0 Horizon League), 1-6 over its last seven games, was shut out in its most recent two games vs. Western Illinois and Murray State.
Oklahoma – 15-4 (0-0 Big 12), ranked 9/10 in the latest polls and on a six-game winning streak. OU will play Tulsa on Wednesday, March 8 at 6 p.m.
Next Up The Mavericks head to Lawrence, Kan., for the Rock Chalk Challenge March 17-19. Omaha opens the tournament against No. 12 LSU on Friday, March 17. On Saturday, UNO takes on Southeast Missouri State and UMKC before wrapping up with Tulsa and Kansas on Sunday. Links to live stats, audio and video will be posted on OMavs.com when available.