Softball’s much anticipated Bedlam series is finally here.
Starting on Thursday, the No. 1-ranked Oklahoma Sooners will play host to the No. 7 Oklahoma State Cowgirls with Big 12 hardware on the line.
The college softball world won’t have to leave the Sooner State this weekend to find the most compelling series in the country, and ESPN made the move on Monday to shift Game 1 up to prime time on ESPN.
With the Hall of Fame Stadium complex as the backdrop for the Women’s College World Series every year, Oklahoma has long billed itself as the nation’s softball capital. And the state’s two flagship programs will once again put that on full display this weekend in Norman.
“I think the state has a lot of be proud of, without question,” OU head coach Patty Gasso said during a Zoom press conference on Tuesday. “Oklahoma State’s really elevated their program and for us to be playing for championships is really spoiling the state of Oklahoma because a lot of people are trying to tune in and try to get inside the stadium.”
Marita Hynes Field has a listed capacity of 1,378 people, but the fans on hand in Norman this weekend will again far exceed that number.
The series has long been sold out, and the Sooners have brought back Home Run Village to allow anyone who can’t get a ticket into the game a different environment to experience the Bedlam Series.
First introduced during last year’s postseason, Home Run Village is a fan fest-style setup just outside the left field wall of the stadium.
Populated with food trucks, activities for the fans and a big screen to broadcast the game, Home Run Village allows the Sooners to pack in more people into the game day experience at no extra cost, something which adds to the energy inside Marita Hynes Field.
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“It definitely added to the atmosphere,” OU second baseman Tiare Jennings said on Tuesday. “You can hear it, you can see it, and I think it just comes from the huge support of our OU Fans. Just how deep they come and how much they love and support us, and so I think that’s been super huge for us.
“… I’m super glad we added (Home Run Village) for this weekend because I think it’s gonna be huge for us.”
Once the games get rolling, both sides will be laser focused on taking the series, as the Sooners look to secure their 10th straight Big 12 regular season crown and the Cowgirls hope throw their rivals off the throne.
But regardless of the results this weekend, the Bedlam series will be a spectacle the entire state can be proud of.
“The fans come out,” Gasso said. “And I think as much as we’re supposed to be enemies, the state of Oklahoma should be proud of these programs. And the D-II and D-III’s and NAIA’s. I mean all levels of softball right now in this state are really doing outstanding.
“… It’s been just an honor to be part of it. Definitely something for the state to have bragging rights about.”
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