Skip to main content

Oklahoma Embracing Opportunity to Improve at Houston Classic

The No. 1-ranked Sooners impressed on the West Coast, but still not where Patty Gasso needs the team to be.

The No. 1-ranked Oklahoma Sooners stormed out of the gates last week in defense of their National Championship.

Patty Gasso’s team finished their trip to the West Coast, finishing 5-0 with a trio of five-inning run rule and a 4-1 victory over No. 3-ranked UCLA Bruins.

“It was a good start for us,” Gasso said during a Zoom press conference on Wednesday. “We didn't play our best but I don't expect us to play our best this early in the season.

“A number one versus a number three challenge, and the third game of the season is something that is a little new for us. We haven't had that a while…. I think both teams would tell you that they weren't ready to play championship style softball at that time.”

Sophomore Tiare Jennings was named Big 12 Player of the Week, but true freshman Jordy Bahl stole the headlines with her standout performance against the Bruins.

Where, How to Watch Houston Classic

  • Friday vs. McNeese State, 12 p.m., SoonerSports.TV
  • Friday vs. Houston, 3 p.m., ESPN+
  • Saturday vs. McNeese State, 12:30 p.m., SoonerSports.TV
  • Saturday vs. Houston, 3 p.m., ESPN+
  • Sunday vs. Texas State, 10 a.m., SoonerSports.TV

Pitching a complete game, Bahl essentially shut the UCLA offense down, striking out 14 batters over a compete seven innings of work and surrendering no unearned runs.

After plenty of preseason recognition for the talent Bahl possess, even Gasso said she was a bit surprised with how unflappable Bahl was in OU’s high profile battle against UCLA.

“I didn't feel like she was fazed,” Gasso said. “I never saw any nervousness. I never saw any intimidation.

“I saw a pitcher who was in complete control at all times. Fired up, had some tough counts got herself out of it. I thought she was outstanding. And I don't think I've ever seen a freshman, at least in our program have that kind of poise and that kind of stuff to shut down a very elite and very good UCLA hitting team.”

On top of the powerful Bruin lineup, Bahl faced some adversity as she had a handful of pitches ruled illegal for a crow hop.

A crow hop occurs when the pitcher uses her leg to push off the ground, breaking contact with the dirt and then replanting the leg before releasing the softball to help generate more power.

Bahl can fire pitches in at close to 72 miles per hour, and Gasso said she’s aware that sometimes things can get away from her.

“If that is what is going to be called we're going to own it and we're going to go on and it's exactly what she did,” Gasso said. “She has pitched a career in where she's had a style that develops or creates power and sometimes she'll take a little bit of a hop to get there.

“And then as soon as something is called, she adjusts and goes right back to it. So if anything, what's interesting about Jordy is if you want to call in a legal pitch on her, she she almost takes it as like, ‘give me the ball back and let me show you.’ So that's kind of what I felt against UCLA that didn't, it was almost a motivator to her in a weird way.”

Bahl wasn’t the only one who starred for the Sooners, as both Nicole May and North Texas transfer Hope Trautwein were dominant in the circle.

OUSB - Hope Trautwein

Hope Trautwein

May and Trautwein combined to give up no runs over the entire weekend, a great start for OU’s revamped pitching staff.

“All of our pitchers set the tone our pitchers set the tone for everything else that was going on on the field,” Gasso said. “And we are not used to that. In the past it was us scoring runs early and scoring a lot and pitchers just do your thing.”

It’s not like the Sooner hitters were bad by any means, combining to score 40 runs across five games, but Gasso still feels there is room to improve.

“For some of them, it felt like they made the strike zone really large,” said Gasso, “and we usually have the ability to take away pitches and really pick a side and kind of have a much more precise game plan than what I was seeing some of our bigger hitters approached at the plate.”

This weekend will present the Sooners with another chance to get locked in at the plate and get the offense rolling again.

Over the course of three days, Oklahoma will play a pair of games against McNeese State and Houston, and one contest against Texas State in the Houston Classic.

Play for OU starts on Friday at 12 p.m. against McNeese State, which will be broadcast from Houston on Oklahoma will then follow that up with a battle against the Houston Cougars at 3 p.m., and the game will be streamed on ESPN+.

Want to join the discussion? Click here to become a member of the AllSooners message board community today!

Sign up for your premium membership to today, and get access to the entire Fan Nation premium network!

Follow AllSooners on Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest OU news.