By the time coach Patty Gasso’s defending national champion Sooners take the field for their fans, their fans ought may have pretty good idea what to expect, for their favorite team will already be four weeks into its season.
On Tuesday, the program announced the entirety of its 2022 schedule and by the time Minnesota swings by Marita Hynes Field on March 7, the Sooners will already have visited Santa Barbara, Irvine and Palm Springs, California, and Houston, too.
In all, OU will play 13 programs that reached the 2021 NCAA draw, four that reached the super regional stage and three of the other seven programs that joined it at last season's Womens College World Series.
If that sounds like an impressive slate, it’s one particular road trip that sets the schedule apart from a year ago, and that’s the return of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
The Long Beach tourney, taking place Feb 25-27, has long played host to one of the best fields in the college game and will also include Arizona, Tennessee, Cal-Fullerton, Long Beach State and Utah.
That, however, won’t mark the Sooners first real test of the season. On Feb. 11, in Irvine, California, the Sooners will be part of an event that also includes UCLA, Mississippi State, Cal-San Diego and Loyola Marymount.
UCLA and Arizona were both a part of last season’s WCWS field. The third team on the Sooner schedule to have also reached last season’s World Series is Bedlam rival Oklahoma State.
Coming home to play the Golden Gophers is not the end of OU’s non-conference slate.
Three days after playing Minnesota in Norman, the Sooners will be in Honolulu for the Rainbow Wahine Classic, where OU will be complimented by a field that also includes Hawaii, California and Big 12 rival Baylor.
The Sooners play host to the Hall of Fame Classic March 18-20 at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, welcoming Indiana, Iowa, Houston, San Diego and Sam Houston State.
The Big 12 season opens March 25-27 with Baylor visiting.
The Bedlam series will be played entirely in Norman, May 6-8, for the first time since 1997, back when the program played across the street at Reaves Park.
Last season, the Sooners traveled to Stillwater for a three-game set.
The Big 12 tournament, in Oklahoma City, begins May 13, with NCAA regional play arriving the following week.
The Sooners haven’t been left out of the NCAA field since Gasso arrived prior to the 1996 season, have reached the super regional stage 11 straight times and haven’t missed a World Series since 2015.