Just six games remain until the Oklahoma Sooners head to Oklahoma City for the Big 12 Tournament.
To date, OU is a dominant 37-1, only stubbing their toe in the front end of a doubleheader in Georgia just two days after capping off an emotional sweep of Texas.
Patty Gasso’s No. 1-ranked Sooners on are pace to rewrite almost every offensive record to date by the time a champion is crowned this June in OKC, but somehow they still may have another level they’ve yet to achieve.
Since dropping the first game to Georgia, Oklahoma has roared back, outscoring the Bulldogs in the second game and Texas Tech this past weekend by a combined score of 52-3 over the four-game span.
“They’re good at answering and responding, and they show that day in and day out,” Gasso said after Sunday’s win over the Red Raiders. “They’ve bounced back well. It’s that time of the season when you start to feel like legs are a little bit heavy, so we’re really working hard to get them rested and get things working for them.”
Superstar Jocelyn Alo said the loss was actually good for the team, as it allowed the freshmen to experience defeat for the first time and learn how they would respond from it.
“We took the loss as a learning lesson and honestly I think it was the best thing to happen to us because for us to respond the way that we did shows a lot that we’re not just gonna roll over,” she said. “It’s just a matter of how you’re gonna keep bouncing and that’s what good teams do. They bounce back.”
Now Oklahoma looks forward to close the regular season in the same dominant fashion they’ve played the rest of the year, they’ll have to navigate a mid-week doubleheader again.
Tuesday evening, the Sooners will play a two-game set in Waco, TX, against the Baylor Bears, a reschedule after the series was postponed earlier this month due to health and safety protocols.
Gasso said OU’s experience last week in Georgia will be invaluable not just for this doubleheader, but for managing her team throughout the postseason.
The four-time national champion head coach said she believes she overworked the team last week, stopping en route to Athens, GA, to get some extra work in the batting cages and rolling out for an early practice on the Bulldogs’ home turf before playing the doubleheader.
This time around, she said the staff would be sure to lighten the load so her team would be as fresh as possible when they take the field.
“There’s a lot of little things along the way that we know now,” Gasso said. “I’m so glad we did it because we’ve learned how to do things differently and I’m anxious to see how it plays out because it will really help us as we go into postseason.”
The Sooners roll into Waco off an impressive series where they shut out Texas Tech for the entire weekend, and scored a program record 18 runs in the fourth inning alone as they blanked the Red Raiders 20-0 on Sunday.
Gasso said she was really pleased with how the pitching staff is coming together, and her team did a good job of responding to the coaches’ challenge to elevate their game after a slow start on Sunday.
“I think we’re starting to roll ourselves again in the right direction,” she said.
But another factor may soon be able to give the already dangerous Sooners yet another lift— more fans.
After the game on Sunday during the Senior Day festivities, Gasso challenged the fans to hit the road and make their presence felt both in Waco and two weekends from now when the Sooners face off against Oklahoma State for the Bedlam series in Stillwater.
With fan capacities increasing slightly as vaccination rates continue to rise, Oklahoma will hope to utilize its home field advantage in the Women’s College World Series, as the NCAA has announced the expansion to 50 percent capacity for their remaining spring championships.
“I definitely do think that fans do make a difference and we feel them,” Alo said of the increasing fan support across the season. “I can feel our fans, and they’re really good ones, too, so it’s really nice having them here.”
Throwing more fans into the mix will only help to enhance the “us against the world” mentality brewing in Norman.
Despite seemingly setting a new NCAA offensive record every weekend, there are still some who doubt Oklahoma’s dominance.
Alo said all the team can do is go out and play their best every day, and continue to earn the respect of the softball world.
“I just think the whole nation is doubting us and we just keep playing our game and we just keep winning games, so we’re just gonna keep on going and do what we know best,” she said. “And that’s to win.”
Oklahoma’s final doubleheader of the regular season at Baylor is slated to start at 4 p.m. Tuesday, with Game 2 following approximately 30 minutes after.
Deep into the season, tired legs could get the best of a team playing yet another mid-week double header, but Alo said she’s ready for any and all challengers.
“Us as Sooners, we just stand on our own and we’ll go anywhere, anytime to play anybody,” she said. “People are gonna hate but we’re just gonna keep doing our thing.”