Patty Gasso’s fears have been allayed.
Gasso’s Oklahoma softball squad, ranked No. 1 in the nation for most of the season, drew the No. 1 overall seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
“I’m just relieved that it’s over, to be honest,” Gasso told ESPN’s Holly Rowe “Everybody anticipates, so whatever we were dealt, we’d be ready for. So, honored that we’re No. 1, but you gotta go through everybody just to get there. So, we’re honored.”
Gasso had expressed concerns that the Sooners' relatively weak strength of schedule might mean a lower seed, but OU's RPI strengthened down the stretch and No. 2-ranked UCLA (41-4) ended up with the No. 2 overall seed.
UCLA is technically the defending champ, having beaten OU in the Women's College World Series championship series in 2019. Last year's tournament was canceled.
This year’s seedings were announced on ESPN Sunday night.
OU (45-2) faces Morgan State (24-15) on Friday night in a 7:30 pm. game at Marita Hynes Field in Norman (streaming on ESPN3). It's the 10th year in a row the Sooners have hosted a regional and the third time OU has been the No. 1 overall seed.
Wichita State (39-11-1) drew the No. 2 seed in Norman and will face 3-seed Texas A&M on Friday at 5 p.m. (ESPN2).
The winner of the Norman Regional advances to take on the winner of the Seattle Regional, where host Washington is the No. 16 overall seed. The NCAA Super Regionals will be played May 27-30.
The Sooners have had high hopes all year that a fifth national championship might be in the cards after posting historic numbers this season.
OU goes into the postseason leading the nation in batting average (.420; Long Island ranks second at .357), home runs (120; Arizona is second with 91), on-base percentage (.507; James Madison is second at .400), runs per game (11.32, Miami-Ohio is second at 7.68) and slugging percentage (.799; James Madison is second at .620).
The Sooners also lead the nation in defense with a .987 fielding percentage.
Gasso was asked to sum up her team’s strengths and weaknesses.
“Strengths, offense. A lot of power, but we can score in a lot of different ways,” Gasso said. “We don’t have to depend on one player. I think we’re pretty strong through the lineup. Pitching staff, very hefty. Got a lot of arms to be able to use when we need them. I think our defense is a little bit underrated, but I always love defense.”
“I don’t know what our weaknesses are right now. But, better figure it out here pretty soon if we have some.”
The Sooners are led by Big 12 Player of the Year Jocelyn Alo, who leads the nation with 27 home runs, Big 12 Freshman of the Year Tiare Jennings, who leads the nation with 76 RBIs (one ahead of Alo), Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Grace Lyons, plus freshman Jayda Coleman (team-best .500 batting average) and catcher Kinzie Hansen (20 home runs, only three strikeouts).
Nobody on the OU roster is hitting below .300.
In the circle, the Sooners are led by a three-pitcher rotation of Giselle Juarez (16-1, 2.53 ERA, 113 strikeouts in 91 1/3 inning), Shannon Saile (16-0, 1.18 ERA, 116 strikeouts in 77 innings) and freshman Nicole May (12-1, 1.62 ERA, 77 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings). Saile ranks 10th nationally in earned run average.
Elsewhere in the Big 12 Conference, No. 5-seed Oklahoma State also landed one of the national seeds and will host a regional in Stillwater. Texas is the No. 12 overall seed and will host in Austin. Baylor got a 2-seed in the Gainesville Regional hosted by No. 4 Florida, and Iowa State got a 2-seed in the Columbia Regional hosted by No. 8 Missouri.