OU softball 'not caught up in Red River Rivalry' for WCWS finals, but Texas is hot ticket

Dean Ruhl
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Hailey Dolcini knew nothing of the Red River Rivalry.  

Dolcini, the Longhorn ace and California native, spent one season at UC Riverside and three seasons at Fresno State before transferring to Texas. The South was foreign land after spending time on the West Coast her entire life. But she’s picked things up quickly. She learned about the Longhorns’ rivals. More importantly, she learned who hates the Longhorns.  

Now, after knowing nothing a year ago, Dolcini is heavily engrained in the rivalry. After surging through the loser’s bracket and staving off elimination in the regional and super regional round, the unranked Longhorns, will play No. 1 Oklahoma in the championship series at the Women’s College World Series.  

The storied Red River Rivalry will again commence, now with a national title on the line. 

“When you talk about Texas, right now we are not caught up in Red River Rivalry,” OU coach Patty Gasso said. “We don’t play with anger or anything like that. We’re just here to try to win against a good team.” 

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OU's Jayda Coleman (24) celebrates after scoring at home as Texas' Mary Iakopo (33) tries to hold on to the ball in the in the fifth inning Saturday.

Responses from coaches and players have been expected. The Sooners are focused on repeating as champions. The Longhorns want to play spoiler.  

“At the end of the day we are competing for a national championship,” said Jocelyn Alo, OU's designated player. “It doesn’t matter whoever is in that other dugout.” 

Gasso suggested fans can get enamored with the rivalry happening on this stage, but the Sooners are focused on the Sooners. Texas catcher Mary Iakopo, another California native, said the rivalry still doesn’t mean anything to her.  

“I actually played with most of those girls,” Iakopo said. “It’s like playing the California teams all over again.” 

Despite each downplaying the series, fan interest has clearly piqued.  

According to Vivid Seats, a ticket exchange company, this year’s WCWS ticket is the hottest of the past decade. The resell value peaks at $117 for Wednesday’s game and climbs closer to $150 for Thursday’s contest. Compared to other Red River games from this past year, the WCWS ticket price only gets beaten out by football.  

The increased interest could be attributed to the rarity of conference foes squaring off for a national title. It has occurred 13 times in softball, the most recent being Florida and Alabama in 2011. In the BCS era, its only happened three times in football, all with SEC schools.  

Carlson:OU didn't want to play two against UCLA, but Sooners came away with a 'blessing'

Texas coach Mike White talks with pitcher Logan Hulon (45) and catcher Mary Iakopo (33) during Saturday's game against OU at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.

Women’s basketball has only seen it seven times since 1989. It hasn’t occurred in men’s hoops since 1988. Baseball had it happen nine times since 1963.  

The Sooners and Longhorns never played for a national title until several weeks ago, when Texas defeated OU to win the women’s tennis national championship.  

So it’s rare, and has only galvanized more fans.  

Despite playing a rival, Gasso said the Big 12 vs. Big 12 national championship speaks to the conference’s strength.  

“We only have seven teams in our conference, but three in the final four,” Gasso said. “Representing was a big deal for us because we don’t get talked about. I think the Big 12 doesn’t get talked about very often.” 

Texas and Oklahoma remain business as usual ahead of Wednesday’s first pitch.

The opponent doesn’t matter, they’re both focused on winning the thing. But the fans are focused on the rivalry, caught in the grandeur of a historic rivalry colliding with a quickly growing sport.  

Carlson:OSU softball 'had it right there.' How Cowgirls let WCWS slip through their hands.

Familiar (conference) foes facing off for NCAA titles

A look at previous NCAA championship matchups between teams from the same conference:


2011: Florida over Alabama (OKC)

2010: UCLA over Arizona (OKC)

2004: UCLA over Cal (OKC)

2003: UCLA over Cal (OKC)

2002: Cal over Arizona (OKC)

2001: Arizona over UCLA (OKC)

1999: UCLA over Washington (OKC)

1997: Arizona over UCLA (OKC)

1996: Arizona over Washington (Columbus, Ga.)

1995: UCLA over Arizona (OKC)

1993: Arizona over UCLA (OKC)

1992: UCLA over Arizona (OKC)

1991: Arizona over UCLA (OKC)

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2021: Mississippi State over Vanderbilt (Omaha)

2017: Florida over LSU (Omaha)

2011: South Carolina over Florida (Omaha)

1997: LSU over Alabama (Omaha)

1988: Stanford over Arizona State (Omaha)

1978: USC over Arizona State (Omaha)

1973: USC over Arizona State (Omaha)

1972: USC over Arizona State (Omaha)

1963: USC over Arizona (Omaha)

'No one beats the Sooners twice':How Jocelyn Alo lifted OU past UCLA and into WCWS finals


1988: Kansas over Oklahoma (Kansas City)

1985: Villanova over Georgetown (Lexington, Ky.)

1976: Indiana over Michigan (Philadelphia)

More:How Oklahoma State softball became a power 50 years after Title IX era began


2021: Stanford over Arizona (San Antonio)

2017: South Carolina over Mississippi State (Dallas)

2013: UConn over Louisville (New Orleans)

2009: UConn over Louisville (St. Louis)

2006: Maryland over Duke (Boston)

1996: Tennessee over Georgia (Charlotte)

1989: Tennessee over Auburn (Tacoma)

Want to know the impact of Title IX?:Look no further than the WCWS & softball in Oklahoma


(Season year listed, game usually played in January of the following year)

2021: Georgia over Alabama (Indianapolis)

2017: Alabama over Georgia (Atlanta)

2011: Alabama over LSU (New Orleans)

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