OU softball: Former high school duo Audrie LaValley, Jolie Fish paired in same NCAA regional

Photo provided / Billy Hardiman Photography

Oklahoma softball freshman Audrie LaValley throws to a teammate during a game against Grand Canyon on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. The Sooners won 7-1.

NORMAN, Okla. — Audrie LaValley couldn’t reach her cell phone fast enough.

The Oklahoma freshman outfielder learned on Sunday her team will host an NCAA softball regional this weekend. And a long-time friend will see her soon.

Wisconsin softball is Norman bound for regionals, creating a de facto high school reunion for LaValley and Badger freshman Jolie Fish.

LaValley attempted to send a message to Fish about the regional pairing, but her former Carl Albert teammate beat her to it.

"Getting to see her is going to be awesome," LaValley said. "Obviously, I haven't got to see her play all year. But we've played since we were about in second grade. We grew up together."

LaValley and Fish helped Carl Albert win an Oklahoma Class 5A fastpitch state championship their senior season. The two friends are now adjusting to different roles in college.

Fish is batting .237 with 23 hits and two home runs in 39 appearances this season.

LaValley, on the other hand, has made 36 appearances for the top-ranked Sooners. She is 5 of 10 at the plate, which includes a home run and two doubles.

LaValley’s smaller role hasn’t deterred her, nor has it for any of OU’s reserves through the team's historic 39-game winning streak.

“A lot of these athletes on our bench could be starting at other programs,” OU coach Patty Gasso said last month. “They know that. ... Audrie LaValley, I want to try to give her as many opportunities as I can.”

The chances might be in short supply, but LaValley is taking advantage of her time with the talented group around her.

LaValley remembers first joining Gasso’s team and jelling with teammates who have won two national championships in the past three years.

“They play hard every day and they don't act like they're better than anyone else,” LaValley said. “They know what to do on the field. The way that they play the game is really cool and how they don't make you feel any less.”

LaValley is happy to be a part of an OU team on track to make another run at the Women's College World Series. The Sooners must first get through regionals.

“I'm ready,” she said. “I think it's going to be fun. We've got a good regional, so it's not going to be easy. It's going to be fun and postseason is the best time.”

It could be even more fun if LaValley and Fish's teams face each other. Although, it isn't a guarantee.

The top-seeded Sooners need a win against UMBC at 8:30 p.m. Friday and Wisconsin a win against Notre Dame at 6 p.m. the same night to set up the reunion.

LaValley still plans to see her former high school teammate, whom she grew up playing with just 30 minutes from Marita Hynes Field.

“If we get a break and I can watch her play,” LaValley said enthusiastically, “I'm going to stay up here and watch her play.”

NCAA Regionals

Friday's games

Game 1: Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin, 6 p.m. (ESPN)

Game 2: UMBC vs. Oklahoma, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Saturday's games

Game 3: Game Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 3 p.m.

Game 4: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 5:30 p.m.

Game 5: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 winner, 8 p.m.

Sunday's championship

Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 1 p.m.

Game 7: If necessary, 3:30 p.m.