OU Softball: SS Tiare Jennings Won't Fight 'Nerves' as She Leads Oklahoma Against Texas

Patty Gasso has full faith in her "clutch" shortstop ahead of OU's biggest series to date in 2024.
Tiare Jennings
Tiare Jennings / Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

AUSTIN, TX — Chaos isn’t foreign to Oklahoma. 

Patty Gasso’s top-ranked Sooners are in Austin this weekend to take on the No.4-ranked Texas Longhorns in a marquee softball series that will shape the Big 12 Conference race and more.

OU (34-1, 12-0 Big 12), winners of 11 straight series against the Longhorns (29-5, 9-3), will battle a hostile road environment, one of the best pitching staffs in the nation and a dangerous lineup headlined by National Player of the Year candidate Reese Atwood.

Oklahoma is more than comfortable on the big stage, taking on both Texas and Oklahoma State in massive weekend bouts every year during the regular season before handling the stress of the Big 12, NCAA Tournament and Women’s College World Series. The Longhorns just waded through a high-pressure weekend themselves, losing two of three to the Cowgirls in Stillwater, as well as taking on a challenging non-conference schedule. 

Gasso will no doubt lean on her veteran leaders to handle the emotion of the weekend, and she won’t have to worry about one OU star in particular. 

Shortstop Tiare Jennings, a co-captain with catcher Kinzie Hansen, is enjoying another phenomenal year and leads by example. Unbothered by the noise and vitriol around her on the road, she’s the same, even-keel personality wherever she plays. 

How to Watch Oklahoma vs. Texas

Game 1: Friday, 5:30 p.m., ESPNU
Game 2: Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN
Game 3: Sunday, 1 p.m., Longhorn Network on ESPN+

“You want her in the clutch situation because she handles it so well,” Gasso said Tuesday. “She's a great two-strike hitter. She doesn't strike out a lot. She doesn't get nerves. She doesn't try to over-swing. She doesn't try to show off. She's very team oriented. … Nothing fazes her.”

Jennings, like many of Oklahoma’s seniors, only knows winning. She’s finished every collegiate season by winning the National Championship, delivering in plenty of big moments along the way. 

Last year against Texas, Jennings went 8-for-11 at the plate in the three-game series in the regular season, driving in eight RBIs while blasting a pair of home runs. She also went 4-for-11 at the plate with three RBIs and two walks in last year’s Bedlam Series in Stillwater, including a clutch full-count double in the top of the seventh inning to put OU on top for the first time in the second game of the series, ultimately extending OU’s winning streak. 

Tiare Jennings was one of Oklahoma's stars in the 2023 Bedlam Series.
Tiare Jennings was one of Oklahoma's stars in the 2023 Bedlam Series. / BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY

Early in Jennings’ career, her teammates recognized that her demeanor allowed her to thrive in the game’s most stressful moments. 

“Her calmness has always been a part of her game,” OU third baseman Alyssa Brito, who played with Jennings in travel ball before transferring to Oklahoma, said on Tuesday. “…  Even if she makes a mistake or we make a mistake, next play, we’re good.”

Gasso recognized that trait in Jennings early in her recruitment, so it was no surprise her ability to come through in the clutch translated to the collegiate level. 

“I just watched her grow up, and once we got her committed and she got taller and stronger,” Gasso said. “I just couldn't wait to watch. She'd just hit bomb after bomb. I'm like this is a woman amongst girls right now. And so when she came here, it was about strength. When freshmen come in, you gotta get them strong to get them what they want, to get the ball out of the yard or hit it hard. And she showed it her freshman year. She's never let up.”

The Red River Rivalry will be a meeting of two softball heavyweights. 

Read More Oklahoma vs. Texas Softball:

Oklahoma 3B Alyssa Brito Ready to 'Thrive' in 'Fun' Road Trip to Texas
After Knee Injury, Oklahoma C Kinzie Hansen is Back for Texas
WATCH: Patty Gasso interview
WATCH: Kinzie Hansen, Alyssa Brito interview

Oklahoma leads the nation with a combined batting average of .394, and Texas is second with a .377 average. The Sooners have seven batters hitting over .400 on the year, and the Longhorns have four.

Atwood has launched 12 home runs and driven in 52 runs, while Jennings paces OU with 15 bombs and 47 RBIs. 

OU ranks third in the country in team ERA (1.40), and Texas is fourth (1.41). Each team has five pitchers who have made at least 10 appearances and have an ERA under 2.00.

On paper there’s not much to separate the two teams, but Oklahoma has a wealth of experience on the biggest stage in not just Jennings but in Brito, Jayda Coleman, Kinzie Hansen, Rylie Boone, Cydney Sanders and Alynah Torres.

Texas stresses opponents in many different ways. 

“Handling their pitchers (is a challenge),” Gasso said. “They have a lot of different looks. … They’re always tough to hit. I think our pitching staff is going to be a big part of this, as well. I think if we can keep the ball in the park, we can do some really good things. 

“… We’ve gotta watch their short game. They like to lay down bunts a lot. They do have a lot of speed, and they do run when you least expect it.”

But when the Sooners and the Longhorns get rolling on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Red and Charline McCombs Field, Oklahoma has weapons like Jennings who rise to the occasion in ways that can’t be planned for in practice. 

“(Jennings) definitely is the one to stay consistent with her emotions,” Hansen said. “That’s what I love sharing the captain’s spot with her. We work really well together because of that. We have each other’s backs.”

Published |Modified
Ryan Chapman


Ryan is deputy editor at AllSooners and covers a number of sports in and around Norman and Oklahoma City. Working both as a journalist and a sports talk radio host, Ryan has covered the Oklahoma Sooners, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the United States Men’s National Soccer Team, the Oklahoma City Energy and more. Since 2019, Ryan has simultaneously pursued a career as both a writer and a sports talk radio host, working for the Flagship for Oklahoma sports, 107.7 The Franchise, as well as AllSooners.com. Ryan serves as a contributor to The Franchise’s website, TheFranchiseOK.com, which was recognized as having the “Best Website” in 2022 by the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters. Ryan holds an associate’s degree in Journalism from Oklahoma City Community College in Oklahoma City, OK.