Ogles experience Red River Rivalry
Pat Ogle is a good sport. The Austin-born Texas graduate dutifully dons the crimson of rival Oklahoma to support her son Tyler, the Sooners' starting catcher.
Luckily for Pat, she gets to change into burnt orange to watch daughter Mandy take the field for the Longhorns' softball team.
"Tyler's freshman year, Oklahoma played in Austin. I sat with the Oklahoma crowd, but when they played Texas' song, my horns went up. It's just automatic," said Pat.
This weekend, Pat and husband Dan will occupy a unique space in the history of the Red River Rivalry: they'll be in Austin to cheer on both the Longhorns and the Sooners. In baseball, the No. 13 Sooners (30-11, 9-7) are looking to extend their four-game winning streak against the No. 5 Longhorns (31-10, 13-5). And on the softball field, the No. 3 Horns (43-4, 12-0) will attempt to protect their perfect Big 12 record against the No. 14 Sooners (34-15, 7-7).
"We're unique in that we have two big rivalries -- Texas and Oklahoma State," said coach Sunny Golloway. "We go into this series with Texas with a lot on the line. We're in third place in the Big 12, they're in second. It's always been a very hard-fought contest and both schools have done very, very well."
While the rivalry hits a fever pitch during football season -- "It's almost a national holiday here," said Golloway -- anytime these teams meet, the stakes are raised. Add in the fact that Texas and Oklahoma are perennial College World Series contenders and both are jockeying for national seed status in the NCAA tournament, and the series takes on added meaning.
"We just had Bedlam two weeks ago, but I think Texas is bigger for me and the other guys on the team from Texas," said Tyler. "I always go in with a chip on my shoulder. I'm hoping to go in there and do some damage."
Familiarity between the schools helps breed animosity. Tyler has played with nearly half of Texas' roster, including All-American ace Taylor Jungmann, whom he caught on a travel team in high school.
"The ribbing started a long time ago," said Tyler. "As soon as I signed with the Sooners, people started calling me a traitor."
Mandy, the Longhorns' backup catcher, will get her first taste of the rivalry as a player this weekend, but she already has her priorities in order: "I'm an Oklahoma baseball fan, but that's it. I root for Texas in everything else."
Although they're on opposite sides of the rivalry, Mandy and Tyler have had similar experiences in college. Tyler spent his freshman year backing up Johnny Bench award winner (given to the nation's best catcher) J.T. Wise. Mandy has spent this season behind senior Amy Hooks, the team leader in home runs.
"If I have a question about anything, Tyler's the first person I ask," said Mandy.
Tyler's experience has proved invaluable, according to Dan. "Tyler forged the first path. He had aspirations for what he can do at the next level. He played behind J.T. Wise and had a very good opportunity to learn as well as create his own niche. He matured under that tutelage," Dan explained. "Mandy absorbs everything he's gone through; she was much more prepared [for the transition from high school to college]."
Patience has paid off for Tyler, who was named to the Johnny Bench watch list for the second straight season and was recently named Big 12 player of the week after hitting three home runs and driving in 11 runs in a four-game span.
"Tyler has developed into a really good leader," said Golloway. "He plays with a tremendous amount of confidence and he really enjoys playing the game. He's at the point where the game comes to him; he doesn't force things that aren't there."
"I was amazed at how much quicker the game was [my freshman year]," said Tyler. "Mandy and I have talked about getting used to the style of the game, the pace of the game and how to work with pitchers. Last year was a transition year for me. Hopefully she can learn this year and have that transition year next season."
While the stakes will be high for both teams this weekend, and the Ogle family will almost assuredly experience a few awkward moments, Dan says the family is keeping the rivalry in perspective.
"Being a parent of an athlete who gets to play in the Big 12 was a big surprise. You wish for that, and they do, too, and to be able to play for programs like Oklahoma and Texas is quite an honor," said Dan. "For us to have two is even more of a surprise. And to play for rivals is quite unexpected."
And while Dan and Pat will spend the weekend shuttling between games, changing colors each time, Mandy is playing it safe.
"I'm just going to wear neutral colors -- probably white," she joked.
Lauren Reynolds is a college sports editor for ESPN.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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