OKLAHOMA CITY — Five Sooners just had the dream ending to their collegiate softball careers.
Jocelyn Alo, Lynnsie Elam, Taylon Snow, Jana Johns and Hope Trautwein, OU’s super seniors, will leave a legacy at Oklahoma larger than the National Championships they played a part in.
More than each senior’s contribution on the field, they all helped foster Patty Gasso’s championship culture in Norman, mentoring the rest of the roster to prepare future OU teams for success.
“One of the biggest things that I've learned from (Alo) is to just really just leave it all out there,” true freshman pitcher Jordy Bahl said after OU won it all on Thursday. “You're never going to regret putting in the extra work when you don't want to. She's one of the hardest workers, and for her it's all paid off.
“Also, with all the spotlight she's gotten, she is still the most humble teammate ever. She's out there working for us, not for herself, but just to continue to be a selfless person, and she handles everything with grace. So just all that from her.”
Even in the most hectic moments of the pandemic, Elam still went out of her way to ensure all of the incoming freshman felt welcomed to the program and were looked after by the veteran players.
“Last year the first time I stepped on campus,” second baseman Tiare Jennings said, “there was still COVID protocol. So I couldn't really hang out with the team much, but whenever we did, Lynnsie was, like, ‘okay, you're coming over and I'm making you dinner.’
“She always helped the freshmen. She made us at home. She took us under her wing. Whenever we had questions, go to Lynnsie. Her character, I have never met anyone like her, and I'm just so thankful that I get to learn from her because I will never meet someone like Lynnsie Elam again.”
Next year, plenty of players will take on larger roles off the field.
Players like Grace Lyons, Jayda Coleman, Kinzie Hansen, Jennings and Bahl will become the faces of the program, leading the Sooners into a season where they look to go back-to-back-to-back as National Champions — a feat only accomplished by UCLA from 1988-90.
Gasso is sure to reload, as she already has a talented signing class in place.
The Sooners landed Kierston Deal, a left-hander from Winston Salem, NC, who was rated the top player in the entire 2022 class by Extra Inning Softball, as well as top 20 recruits in infielder Avery Hodge, utility player Jocelyn Erickson and pitcher SJ Geurin.
If the new crop of recruits can come in and get acclimated, Gasso has proven she’s more than willing to hand playing time to freshman who earn it on the practice fields.
The transfer portal could be a major factor as well, as the culture in Norman has allowed Gasso to seamlessly integrate a number of key contributors over the past couple of years.
Snow and Johns have been in the program for a few years, and Trautwein and Alyssa Brito came in last offseason to play a major role in this year’s title-winning campaign.
Now, the responsibility of helping the next generation of Sooner stars get acclimated will fall on the new leadership core, and they’ve been prepared for this role for years.
“The super seniors taught me the power of being a good teammate,” Hansen said. “… Everybody has that super senior that takes them under their wing, and mine was Jocy. To see her go, she's going to pass the baton down.”
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