Image by Kelsey Vere from Pixabay
BY SGC STAFF
With the OU Sooners soon joining the SEC and the UT Longhorns, we wanted to do an article focusing on what the Sooner’s Women’s Softball program will bring to the conference. If you didn’t already know, the OU Sooners are one of the most dominant teams in all of women’s softball.
Not only are they the defending national champions, but they have won the Women’s College World Series in the past two seasons (2022, 2021). They have also won it all four times since 2016. With 6 total championships since current head coach Patty Gasso arrived on campus in 1995.
Much of the dominance that the OU Lady Sooners have been able to accomplish can be attributed to what Coach Patty Gasso brought to the team. Since she arrived she has amassed an amazing record of 1,395-344-2 (.801) with the Sooners. Her teams have won 14 Big 12 Conference championships since the inception of the Big 12, including 10 straight since 2012. Her Big 12 conference record is even more impressive with 376-87; .812, which is twice as many conference wins than any other coach.
What makes the Lady Sooners so dominant?
The key to Oklahoma’s team success can be attributed to a number of factors, dominant players at every position, and top-flight coaching. When OU Athletic Director Joe Castiglione first named Patty Gasso as the new OU Women’s Softball head coach, he knew he had a winner. Along with Coach Gasso, there are a number of assistant coaches who support her and help teach the players what it takes to be a winner.
One of the primary reasons why Coach Gasso has been so successful at OU is because she is able to get all of her girls to buy into her philosophy. This is important because whether or not you have the best players on the field, you have to be able to trust that they will follow your direction without question. Based on the overall success in the past several years, it is hard to argue.
Dominant offense, defense, and pitching
Let’s start with the offense, it is hard to argue when you look at all of the offensive metrics. The OU Sooner hitters are some of the best of the best, one only needs to look at the number of games in the past couple of seasons that ended in 5 inning run rules. Note: a college women’s softball game consists of 7 innings with the two teams alternating at at-bats. The visiting team starts the inning and the home team bats last.
5 inning Run Rule
To keep games competitive, the NCAA established a rule for scoring in all Division I collegiate games. The run rule is as follows
Any team ahead by 20 runs after the completion of three innings is declared the winner
Any team ahead by 15 runs after the completion of four innings is declared the winner
Any team ahead by 10 runs after the completion of five innings is declared the winner
In the past couple of years, the OU Sooner Women’s Softball team has amassed an amazing total of run-rule wins. In the past three seasons alone from 2019 to 2022 (the 2020 season was canceled due to Covid-19) OU has notched 100 run-rule victories out of 185 games.
A big reason for these gaudy numbers is that the Lady Sooners have had several powerful hitters in their lineups. Up to last year, they were led by Jocelyn Alo, who became the all-time homerun hitter in NCAA Women’s Softball history. Her 122 total home runs, including team leading 34 homers in 21, 22, and 30 in 2018 and 26 in 2019.
While power is one of the strong suits of the Patty Gasso-led teams, that is not the only way the Sooners shine. Coach Gasso stresses smart base running, strategic ball placement in the field, and discipline in the batter’s box.
When it comes to coaching, the hitting responsibility falls on the shoulders of another Gasso, JT Gasso, Coach Gasso’s son. JT has been an assistant coach on Patty Gasso’s staff for the past seven years. His responsibility is to the outfielders and the offense (hitting coach). This past season, the OU offense led the nation in a number of categories including; home runs, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.
Coach Patty Gasso has proven to be one of the absolute best when it comes to evaluating talent. She is able to find pitchers to come to OU from all over the country. The ability to bring in players year after year that is able to dominate the pitching circle has been one of her specialties. Over the past several years OU pitchers have been able to shut down opposing offenses.
This is a big reason for the 100-run rule victories in the past three seasons.
In 2022, Jordy Bahl, Hope Trautwein, and Nicole May helped the Sooner’s pitching staff combine for 45 run-rule victories and a 59-3 final record.
While OU’s pitching and offense are obviously very potent, the Sooners are no slouches when it comes to playing defense. All it takes is for you to watch them in the field and you can understand why they are one of the best defensive teams. They have so much speed in the outfield and the infielders are able to react with cat-like quickness. They also are very intelligent when it comes to knowing where to get the ball after making plays on the ball.
It is all about teamwork, and it starts at the top and filters down to every player on the team. Coach Gasso demands excellence from all her players and assistant coaches and expects everyone to give her all. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about practice or between lines in a game, she wants her team to always be on their game.