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47Straight
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 Posted: Wed May 22nd, 2019 12:23 pm

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https://newsok.com/article/5631989/ou-softball-qa-with-espn-analyst-former-arizona-star-jenny-dalton-hill

Jenny Dalton-Hill had a press-box view as Oklahoma’s winning streak was snapped, and the record one she contributed to at Arizona was preserved.

Dalton-Hill was National Player of the Year and Women’s College World Series MVP in 1996. It was her third national championship as a player, and she won another as an Arizona assistant in 1997.

The Wildcats won 47 consecutive games across the 1996 and 1997 seasons. It’s a streak that, until Sunday, was under threat. Oklahoma had won 41 in a row before losing to Wisconsin.

Dalton-Hill, now an analyst for ESPN, called the Norman Regional games. She’ll be working the UCLA super regional this weekend. The Oklahoman caught up with Dalton-Hill to get her thoughts on the Sooners, and how they might stack up with her Arizona teams.

Q: What were your impressions seeing OU in person for the first time?

A: "I love how calm they are. There's always a sense of urgency when you're playing those games, but there was never a sense of panic. There was never a sense of trying to do too much. Those five seniors have really set the tone for this group. That senior leadership has really trickled down to those two great freshmen in Grace Green and Grace Lyons — who not only are amazing athletes, but who have taken on that calm confidence as well."

How surprised were you to see OU lose and the streak end?

"I think the whole country was surprised to see Oklahoma lose. Wisconsin, while a very good team on paper, should not have come away with that win. That's why you play the game. My concern is that a vulnerability was brought forth that maybe hadn't been seen before. It's nuts how it all played out, but Patty Gasso said to us that she was glad to see the streak come to an end so that they didn't have to carry that burden."

on?

"Kaitlyn Menz, the pitcher from Wisconsin, was really painting the outside corner. And for me, that's a pitch that Oklahoma could very easily dominate on. They have beautiful swings, but they also train their eye to be attuned to the zone. The hitters did not want to swing at it. They've trained themselves to stay off that pitch, and Menz saw that as an opportunity and she really capitalized on it. That is a pitch Oklahoma can totally hit. It was more a decision they were making to not swing at it. I have no doubt they'll make that adjustment.”

How would you compare Arizona's streak in 1996-97 to the one Oklahoma just went on?

"I don't know that I want to comment a whole lot on that, because it's like comparing apples to oranges. Oklahoma played really tough opponents in the beginning of the season, and that's where their losses happened. Then they got into Big 12 play, and how many times have they run the table in the Big 12? That tells me that while their conference is hard to get through, they have dominated with a bunch of wins. I don't know that there's a way to compare the 90s with almost 2020. I think they had similar qualities with a lot of powerful hitters and great defense, but the parity on both ends is very different."

sybarite
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 Posted: Wed May 22nd, 2019 04:22 pm

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What vulnerability do you think Wisconsin picked up on?
"Kaitlyn Menz, the pitcher from Wisconsin, was really painting the outside corner. And for me, that's a pitch that Oklahoma could very easily dominate on. They have beautiful swings, but they also train their eye to be attuned to the zone. The hitters did not want to swing at it. They've trained themselves to stay off that pitch, and Menz saw that as an opportunity and she really capitalized on it. That is a pitch Oklahoma can totally hit. It was more a decision they were making to not swing at it. I have no doubt they'll make that adjustment.”




This is what I saw that irritated the crap out of me.  We have great hitters.  They can hit any pitch, and they have proven that for four years now.  Somebody made the conscious decision not to swing at a pitch that should have looked like a  beach ball to the hitters.  They should have looked for it and killed it.


We had a couple of incidents where they did.  Elam took that outside pitch and lined it to the right field wall to lead off an inning. We scored.  After having struck out on that pitch about three times, Green came up with runners on base, and lined a shot into right, driving in two runs.


I heard comments that we were getting our timing down.  Nonsense.  There are no timing issues if every pitch you see is 60 mph or less.  Changeups aren't even very effective.  But, you have to attack it---hit it where it is pitched.  You don''t try to pull a pitch on the outside corner, lots of ground balls to third and short, or popups.  You drive it to the opposite field, perhaps up the middle.  But, we had people take it over and over, striking out.  A pitcher who averaged about three strikeouts per game had twelve ks in about 12 innings against us.  We were letting a pitcher that we should have sent to the dugout after one inning look like a superstar because we chose not to swing, consciously.


I saw a bit of the same thing last year against Washington.  Let the hitters hit, attack.  I don't want anyone taking the bat out of Alo's hands or Clifton's hands.  We should not have seen two Ks from that girl.  You don't take great talent and cripple it with a decision not to swing.

jdurrett
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 Posted: Wed May 22nd, 2019 08:26 pm

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I think you're right. I had the same feeling that I had last year at the Championship series. That blue funk when we're on the wrong track and cant quite get out of it even though it seems fairly obvious but we're just not doing what we need to and are halfway aware of it. The problem then become regaining our "edge". We won for so long and so seemingly easy that we got a bit complacent. Now the problem is getting sharp again and rekindling that championship attitude. Not as easy as you might think.

sybarite
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 Posted: Wed May 22nd, 2019 09:13 pm

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I don't see it as a funk, but as a deliberate plan that doesn't work.

OU_Tom
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 Posted: Thu May 23rd, 2019 02:41 am

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I don’t think the issue is a funk either. The OU hitters don’t seem to be adjusting when we face better pitchers.

I should preface my comments by saying that I am not a fan of nepotism. But given it exists, we probably need some Gasso relative who is watching ESPN to call JT during the game and let him know that since the ump is calling balls on the outside part of the plate as strikes that the OU batters might as well swing at those pitches

Old Sooner
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 Posted: Thu May 23rd, 2019 05:57 am

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I don't think it is complacency. A medium speed ball on the outside of the plate is gravy for a power hitter or a bunter. Even a slap hitter. Power hitters can hit it with the fat part of the bat and the ball really goes yonder. Half of our lineup has power. Did they not swing because they were told not to swing? Appeared to me to be so. The bats never left the shoulders - except for Elam and Green.

sybarite
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 Posted: Thu May 23rd, 2019 08:39 am

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OU_Tom wrote: I don’t think the issue is a funk either. The OU hitters don’t seem to be adjusting when we face better pitchers.

I should preface my comments by saying that I am not a fan of nepotism. But given it exists, we probably need some Gasso relative who is watching ESPN to call JT during the game and let him know that since the ump is calling balls on the outside part of the plate as strikes that the OU batters might as well swing at those pitchesI don't want to make an accusation of Gasso, although she has now hired two sons on her staff.  She is too good.  I just can't believe that anyone can overlook 130 years of baseball knowledge about how to hit and come up with the idea not to swing at a pitch you should be killing.

These players were great hitters when we recruited them.  They don't need an amateur tinkering with them.  Who made a 400 hitter as a freshman with seven home runs as a freshman into a 300 hitter as a sophomore with zero home runs?  You watch Mendes swing, and you want to make her into a slap hitter.  She took Barnhill out of the park in a national championship series.

Refriedbeans
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 Posted: Thu May 23rd, 2019 02:41 pm

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Ditto to what OU Tom & Sybarite posted.
Someone needs to remember the old adage": "If it ain't broke,don't fix it!"


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