By (Kelly Ward)

Sooner or later it was bound to happen. Alabama and Oklahoma softball were bound to meet eventually. Fate in disguise as the NCAA selection committee made it happen sooner than it has in years past.

On Friday, possibly the most anticipated Super Regional contains two of the top six teams in the country. Alabama, seeded sixth in the tournament, and Oklahoma, seeded 11th, will meet in Tuscaloosa with the winner punching a ticket to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series. Both are ranked Nos. 5 and 6 in both polls.

“They’re a very very good team,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “When the pairings came out, I think it’s unfortunate because I think we’re both in the top eight in terms of quality in teams across Division I but it is what it is and now we have to do what we need to do, and we’re looking forward to it.”

The two teams are familiar with Oklahoma City. In 2012, the two met in the championship series with Alabama taking it all in three games.

“That team we’re about to play — Oklahoma — there’s a lot of great memories with them,” senior shortstop Danae Hays said. “I feel like we’ve had a great history against them. They’re just a very fun team to play and some of the best memories that I’ve had since being here at Alabama have been playing against them.”

Oklahoma won the Norman Regional last weekend with a win over Texas A&M in the regional final.

The Sooners are led by NCAA career home run leader Lauren Chamberlain and No. 6 on the list Shelby Pendley. Pendley’s availability Friday is in question after she collided with someone in centerfield in practice. She was helped off the field without putting pressure on her right foot.

“Nothing much but a little bit of a tweak,” Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso said. “I don’t think it will be any problem.”

The Sooners also have freshman left-hander Paige Parker (27-5, 1.49 ERA). Parker has thrown four perfect games. Opponents hit .169 against her. She and Alabama right-hander Alexis Osorio (19-7, 1.59 ERA) are two of the three finalist for NFCA Freshman of the Year. Parker and Osorio are also likely to face off against each other Friday.

“I’ve wondered that myself because she’s a freshman, this is her first go around,” Hays said. “You would think she would be scared or be a little intimidated by the first name but I just think ultimately she’s just a competitor and you just can’t teach that with kids. They just come in and they just have it. Some learn to have it by their junior or senior year and then others just come in with it.”

Alabama (45-12) and Oklahoma (48-7) face off in the first game of the Super Regional at 6 p.m. Friday on ESPN. The second game is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Saturday on ESPN. If necessary, a third game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday and would air on ESPN2.

Source:: The Crimson White Sports