Oklahoma collected four individual awards while Oklahoma State claimed pitcher of the year in the 2021 Phillips 66 All-Big 12 Softball Awards, announced on Wednesday. The honorees were selected by a vote of the league’s head coaches.
The Sooners’ Jocelyn Alo earned Big 12 Player of the Year, Grace Lyons garnered Defensive Player of the Year, Tiare Jennings was named Freshman of the Year and Patty Gasso was voted Coach of the Year.
Oklahoma State’s Carrie Eberle picked up the Cowgirls’ first Pitcher of the Year accolade.
Alo leads the nation in home runs (26) and slugging percentage (1.147). She is second in RBIs (71), sixth in runs per game (1.23), seventh in batting average (.481) and 10th in on-base percentage (.574). In Big 12 statistics, the senior is second only to teammate Jayda Coleman in batting average. She is tied for the lead in walks (28), second in RBIs and on-base percentage, third in total bases (148) and hits (1.41), and fourth in runs scored.
"I was talking to (Alo) today and I just told her of how proud I am of her," Gasso said in a Zoom press conference on Wednesday. "She's gone through some roller coaster rides here but really kind of transitioned herself into a woman, a good leader.
"Just an outstanding mind for hitting and shares it with the team. Really a good teacher to others on the team, which is really really important."
Eberle led OSU to its best conference win percentage (.833) in Big 12 history. Her 10 wins, nine complete games and 75 innings pitched were the most in league games as were her 19 wins, 15 complete games and 139 innings in all games. The senior right hander has made 24 appearances on the season with a 19-2 record. Her six shutouts top the Big 12 and her 1.06 ERA is second.
Lyons anchors the OU defense from her shortstop position. She has 45 putouts and 50 assists with just three errors for a .969 fielding percentage and has turned six double plays. Offensively, Lyons is fourth in the Big 12 in batting average (.447) behind three of her teammates. The junior is third in the conference in on-base percentage (.542), fifth in runs scored (51), sixth in slugging percentage (.821), tied for eighth in doubles (10) and 10th in hits (55) and total bases (101).
"Honestly, she's the best short stop I've ever seen in my life in college softball," Gasso said. "It is baseball style. I mean if she was a guy she'd be making millions and millions of dollars right now playing hopefully for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"But she's so smooth and hand-eye coordination and all of that, she's so dang good on defense but she's also so dang good offensively."
Jennings made an immediate impact in her rookie season. She leads the nation in RBIs (72) and ranks second in homers per game (0.52), runs per game (1.36) and slugging percentage (1.057). Her 23 home runs rank third and her batting average (.468) is 10th. In league leaders, Jennings is first in runs scored (60) and RBIs, and tied for the top spot in doubles (14). She is second in hits (66), home runs and slugging percentage.
"Tiare Jennings is still kind of an anomaly," Gasso said. "I knew she was going to be really good, but to do what she's doing right now and leading the country, or right up there with (Alo), and leading in RBI's and home runs... It's more that I could ever ask for.
"I didn't think it would happen this fast, and it's been really fun. It's just been an amazing ride to watch."
Gasso led the top-ranked Sooners to their ninth consecutive Big 12 regular season title and 12th overall. OU finished league play at 16-1 with the only loss at No. 9 Oklahoma State in the final regular season weekend. Oklahoma enters postseason play with a 42-2 overall record. In her 25th season, Gasso has been recognized as coach of the year in nine consecutive seasons and 13 all-time.
In addition to Alo, Jennings, Lyons and Coleman, senior pitcher Shannon Saile was named first-team All-Big 12.
Utility player Mackenzie Donihoo, catcher Lynnsie Elam and pitcher Giselle Juarez made second-team All-Big 12, and Coleman, Jennings and Nicole May all made the All-Big 12 Freshman Team.
Twelve student-athletes make up the All-Big 12 First and Second Team while 10 selections are named to the All-Big 12 Freshman Team, regardless of position.