If tough times make tough people, then Oklahoma softball Patty Gasso is still waiting to see how tough her team is.
Things have been almost too easy at times for the No. 2-ranked Sooners, who are 7-0 and have outscored their opponents so far 100-9. Gasso’s thoughts are often on the College World Series and winning a fifth national championship, and not on scoring almost 30 in the season opener.
That’s why this weekend’s trip to the desert is so huge. OU is scheduled to play five games in the Phoenix area, including Friday afternoon’s 5 p.m. showdown with No. 13 Arizona State (6-0) in Tempe.
“I’m interested to see the toughness our team has and what kind of attitude they have out there,” Gasso said. “I need to see them bow up.”
Gasso has spoken at times like this OU team might be the best she’s ever had. That will be determined in June, of course, not in February. Life has been milk and honey so far. She wants to see how the Sooners respond when things turn sour.
“That’s the one area that I’m still not completely sure about,” Gasso said. “I know we can hit. I know we can hit for power. I know we can run. I know we’re athletic. I know we have defense. I know our pitching staff can hold. But what kind of demeanor are we gonna have when we’re down?
“I saw a little bit of it (last) weekend because we were down a few times (twice to Houston). But at full strength, I would like to see a team that just has zero fear and an absolute attitude of dominance when we’re out there. Especially against Arizona State.”
The Sooners and Sun Devils tangle at 5 p.m. OU starts the trip today with a noon game against New Mexico. Saturday’s schedule features two games at Grand Canyon University (versus New Mexico at noon and then against the hosts at 4:30) before wrapping things up at GCU Sunday at 10 a.m. against Portland State.
“I hope to find out quite a bit this weekend,” Gasso said. “We’re running into a really really good team in Arizona State. The numbers, the lineups, everything almost looks very identical to us.”
Gasso said the Sooners have senior outfielder Nicole Mendes, senior infielder Taylon Snow, senior infielder Jana Johns and sophomore pitcher Brooke Vestal back from what she said was an absence last week from COVID-19 contact tracing.
“They all tested negative,” Gasso said. “It’s just one of those tracing situations that’s kind of hard to understand.”
Their return puts the Sooners at full strength for the first time this season. That’s a scary thought.
“We’ve got something special brewing here,” said senior Jocelyn Alo. “I’m exited to see where we’ll go. I’m excited to see where we’ll progress every single weekend … but we got seething special going on over here.”
“It’s pretty awesome to just watch,” said senior Shannon Saile.
Gasso said she believes strongly in all the elements of this team — all but one, simply because the Sooners haven’t been pushed yet.
“It has everything to do with our attitude and our toughness and our willingness to fight through things and not let it get in our head and know we’re gonna win games even when we’re down,” Gasso said. “It’s those kind of things I have not seen tested yet. And those are my uncertainties.
“I think we’re gonna find out the next two or three weeks what kind of team we are. I don’t know our identity truly yet until we get into some of these tough games, I’ll be finding that out soon.”