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Oklahoma's weekend off comes at the perfect time

After a grueling schedule featuring 10 games over the last two weeks, No. 1-ranked OU softball is using the off weekend to rest up and finish strong in the classroom

After a sprint through April, Patty Gasso’s No. 1-ranked Oklahoma Sooners are finally getting a break.

Coming off of back-to-back weeks featuring a weekend series and a Tuesday double header, OU will be able to rest this weekend, not hitting the road again until next Tuesday.

The weekend off doesn’t mean the team will get to relax, however, as the packed schedule so close to finals week means the student part of student athlete has caught up with the team.

Senior pitcher Shannon Saile is welcoming the chance to catch back up, as she in particular said the workload was building.

“I have my Capstone paper due, and then I have another paper due that’s 16 pages and then I have my two finals. So I’m actually really excited to get some homework done,” she said in a Zoom press conference on Thursday.

Preparations for OU’s final four games, a one-game stop agains the Wichita State Shockers on Tuesday ahead of the Bedlam series May 7-9, still must trudge on though.

Gasso said her coaching staff has been running the team through the mental side of the game, specifically going back through the offensive fundamentals her staff attempted to instill at the start of the year.

“They did a lot of recovery,“ Gasso said. “The practices are lighter, more focused, a little bit lighter.

“I’m trying to make things light and easy, yet getting things accomplished that we need to get accomplished.”

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The weekend off will be a welcome one, as the Sooners just wrapped a stretch where they played 10 games in 12 days

Sophomore catcher Kinzie Hansen said honing the mental aspect of the game in the classroom is almost as important as recharging their bodies this weekend.

“We’ve been on this very steady grind ever since last March and it’s been almost non-stop,” she said. “I think that this weekend that we have is very important for not only our bodies but for preparation for what’s coming. So the mental and physical side is getting built up this weekend. So that’s very important for every single one of us for sure.”

This weekend will be the last breath of fresh air for the Sooners until the season ends, but Saile feels like the past two weeks have prepared the team for the upcoming postseason marathon.

“What I think is really good is the way this ended up working out, we had a two week time span where we were playing three game series and then traveling and playing on Tuesday,” she said. “It was really taxing on our bodies. Everyone’s legs felt heavy, but I think that was really important for the postseason to feel that because that’s what it’s going to feel like.”

The break in the schedule came at the perfect time to set the table for their lofty NCAA Tournament goals.

“Having this weekend off to be able to rest up, to be able to get some homework done before finals. We have a big series against OSU so it really gives us some time to rest up,” Saile said. “It really does help with our bodies because I know a lot of people were feeling it.”

After a season of safety protocols and hearing the sound of professors’ lectures ringing out on the team bus, Gasso said her team is nearing the finish line both on the field and in the classroom.

“It’s crunch time for sure and they’re trying to play catchup,” she said.