Scouting Oklahoma: No. 18 Missouri travels to face undefeated Sooners

The Tigers face the toughest test of the early season so far as they get set to take on No. 1 Oklahoma.

Coming into the Courtyard Marriott Tournament, No. 18 Missouri is riding a nine-game winning streak. The Tigers have looked strong at the plate, in the circle and defensively as they look to compete for an SEC title this season.

They face No. 1 Oklahoma on Saturday and Sunday in the toughest test of the season on paper so far.

The Sooners come in 12-0, with six of those wins being by more than 10 runs. They also have seven shutouts.

With the two teams coming into the top-25 showdown looking to stay hot, The Maneater spoke to OU Daily Sports softball writer Braden Giesecke for an inside look at the Sooners.

This interview has been edited for clarity purposes

The Maneater: Last season, Oklahoma finished 20-4. Where have they improved and how have they been able to keep that momentum going?

Braden Giesecke, OU Daily Sports Softball Writer: So with the roster, it’s pretty much everybody from the 2019-2020 season, except it’s more experienced. And then we also have the additions of Jayda Coleman and Tiare Jennings who are top-five nationally recruited from last year, and they’ve already been off to a hot start.

Tiare Jennings, she’s already hit several home runs within 12 games.

TM: Oklahoma has only faced one team ranked in the top-25 this season. Do you think this may have an impact?

BG: Arizona State did keep it close. It was one of OU’s only close games of the season so far. If Arizona State was able to do that, I think Missouri is more than capable of making the upset.

TM: Who are some of the batters that Missouri should be worried about?

BG: With OU’s batting lineup, there are not really any breaks. You’ve probably seen the scores, it’s been kind of ridiculous how much they’ve been able to score. I’d say senior utility player Jocelyn Alo and junior infielder Grace Lyons have stood out the most this season.

TM: Who do you expect to be pitching in this game for the Sooners? What will she bring to the game?

BG: OU’s ace pitcher this season Giselle Juarez. This is her fifth year, she came back for an extra year of eligibility due to COVID.

She brings a lot of experience. She transferred in from Arizona State in 2018, and she does not allow many hits when she’s in the circle. She recorded 10 strikeouts last weekend in other games.

TM: The Sooners are currently undefeated and have put up strong numbers. What will Missouri have to do in order to keep the bats quiet and have success against the pitchers?

BG: I’d say the key for Missouri is they’re gonna have to keep up with OU’s batting.

I would say that the pitching staff for the Sooners is a little top-heavy because their two best pitchers are both redshirt seniors. Everyone else is a sophomore or freshman.

I feel like if you wear down Giselle Juarez and Shannon Saile then they should have a shot to give the Sooners their first loss.

TM: The team seems to have a good mix of youth and experience throughout the roster. How has that helped the team so far this season?

BG: I think it’s been a little glossed over. I don’t think people realize that it’s played a big part for the freshmen. Especially because two of them are starters, and with a roster of 23, which is unusual for a softball team to have that many players in a season.

Tiare Jennings, like I said, and Jayda Coleman have been off to an amazing start for being freshmen. They’ll have their hardest test yet when they face Missouri.

TM: Prediction for Oklahoma vs. Missouri?

BG: I’m gonna say it’s gonna be a defensive game. I’m gonna be conservative on this and say it’ll be like 4-3, it’ll be a close one.

I think OU hasn’t faced as much talent on one team as Missouri has right now, and this will be their first big test of the season. I think OU’s bats will be just too much to handle and I think OU will edge out the win.

Edited by Jack Soble | jsoble@themaneater.com

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