By Jon Benton
A couple of days ago, the University of Oklahoma Women’s Softball team became only the second team in NCAA DIVI Women’s College Softball to back to win back to back Women’s College World Series Championships. This is OU’s 7th overall softball championship and it matches the number of championships the Sooner college football team has won in the school’s 100+ years of competition.
Over three years, the lady Sooners have amassed a record of 176-8, which includes this season’s 61-1 finish. The only loss came to Baylor on February 19th, after that, they set the consecutive wins record at 53 wins. When the next season begins, they will keep pushing that record total.
So, why is the Lady Sooner’s Softball Team so dominant?
Let’s dive deep into that subject!!
It all starts with the head coach and a great coaching staff. Which is led by Patty Gasso has been at OU for 29 years. Since being hired to coach at OU in 1995, Coach Gasso has compiled a record of 1,456-345-2. That represents an 81% winning percentage over the 29-year history.
She put together a great staff of assistant coaches, which includes her son JT (offense and hitting coach) and Jennifer Rocha (assistant head coach and pitching coach), and Hanna Spark (volunteer Assistant). Together with her staff, coach Patty Gasso can get the absolute best out of all 20 players.
Success breeds success which is very apparent at OU and the results speak for themselves. Being able to reach all over the country and get the top softball players in the country is no small feat. The other part of the equation is the transfer portal, being able to get players wanting to come to OU for the chance at winning a national title.
What is at the heart of the team’s success?
When asked during the many interviews recently, the players and coach Gasso put it simply their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They can play at such a high level and continue to find joy in playing the game of softball because they are doing it to give all the glory to God and Jesus.
All you have to do is watch just a few minutes of any OU Women’s College Softball and you will understand why they are so successful. They are never truly out of a game until there are no more outs left. They believe that they always have a chance to pull out a victory even when it looks totally out of the question.
They ended the 2023 season with an earth-shattering 61-1 final record (record-setting winning percentage of .984) and a 53-game winning streak (also a record). This included a game in the postseason that they were down 3 runs to the Clemson Tigers, down to the last pitch with two strikes and Kinzie Hanson hits a 3-run homerun to tie the game in the seventh inning Tiare Jennings would win it with a solo homerun in extra innings.
This propelled them into the Women’s College World Series again and led them to be the eventual champions for the third time in a row. A feat that has only happened once before by UCLA many years ago. This is the seventh National Title for OU Women’s Softball and ties them with the Men’s Football Team for the number of championships.
What makes OU such a dominant force in Women’s College Softball?
All you have to do is look at the team and see that they are elite athlete’s in all phases of softball; offense, defense, and especially pitching. The results are nothing short of amazing and virtually perfect by all accounts. They finished the season with a crazy record of 61-1, something that hasn’t been done before, until now.
Let’s talk a little about each of the three phases to put it all into perspective.
Despite losing the home run queen Josilyn Alo to graduation, the Sooners still hit 117 home runs and scored 501 runs as a team. Five players finished the season batting over .400 and averaged .366 as a team. Five Sooners hit double-digit home runs, with Jayda Coleman, Tiare Jennings, and Alyssa Brito all tied with a team-leading 17 home runs.
Tiare Jennings led the team in several statistical categories including batting average (.415), RBI’s (66), and tied for the team lead in HRs (17). What makes the team so powerful and scary on offense is that everyone is capable of showing tremendous power, while still being able to finesse their way on base when needed.
You may think that Coach Patty Gasso focuses heavily on offense, but you would probably be surprised to know that during team practices they focus more on defense. Led by their gold glove shortstop Grace Lyons and superstar center fielder Jayda Coleman, the Sooners are one of the elite defensive teams in all of Women’s College Softball.
As a team, the Sooners have only committed 19 total errors, as compared with their opponents whose committed 60 errors. During the regular season and postseason, several players made spectacular plays. These include Jayda Coleman going out and up over the wall to snare a potential home run. Rylie Boone made several spectacular catches in the outfield and Grace Lyons and Alyssa Brito make throwing out runners at first base look easy.
The OU Sooner pitching staff is head and shoulders above the rest as a team. While they may not all be the top individually, as a team, they are second to none. With a combined 61 wins against a single loss (Jordy Bahl), each of the three starters had double-digit wins. They were led by Bahl who was 22-1 and Alex Staroka, and Nicole May each had 18 wins and zero losses. Kirsten Deal finished with a 3-0 record as a freshman. To say they were dominant would be an understatement as they only surrendered 23 HRs compared to the 117 HRs that the Sooner offense hit as a team. As a team, they finished with a staggering .96 team ERA and with a strikeout total of 460 in 386 innings pitched.
There truly is only one way to describe the OU Women’s Softball Team and that is dominant. There is no reason to believe that they will not continue this upward trajectory into the future. As long as coach Patty Gasso is around they will be on top, without a doubt in the world.
Jon Is a 58-year-old US Navy veteran living in Oklahoma, OK for the past 30 years. He is married to his high school sweetheart and they have three adult children. He is heavily into politics, the Detroit Lions, and the Oklahoma Sooners (BOOMER SOONER BABY). Jon is an IT Support Specialist by day and a professional writer by night. He has been writing online for the better part of 30 years and much of it for other people. He is now geting credit for his writing!