OKLAHOMA CITY — Patty Gasso was aware of the expectations.
Entering 2022, the Oklahoma Sooners were an unanimous preseason No. 1 selection.
OU was a defending National Champion, and only had to replace three super seniors.
Jocelyn Alo was back to break the college softball’s career home run record, and Gasso struggled to tamp down expectations for true freshman pitcher Jordy Bahl.
Under all of that pressure, Gasso’s message was to forget about the past and attack 2022 as a new challenge.
“The most important thing that I know through experience is that you do not look through the rearview mirror,” Gasso said all the way back in February. “You look out through the front windshield and you see what’s ahead of you.”
So with Bahl and transfers Alyssa Brito and Hope Trautwein in tow, the Sooners set out on a new path in 2022.
And incredibly, they were better.
The 2022 Oklahoma Sooners closed the year as the best team to ever take the field.
Oklahoma dominated in the early stages of the season, breezing through the Mark Campbell Invitational where UCLA where Bahl fanned 14 Bruins, as well as conquering the Mary Nutter Classic despite a welcome befitting of a world renowned rock band.
OU ripped off 38-straight wins to start the season, a new NCAA Division I softball record, and fell just seven games shy of matching the longest win streak in the history of the sport.
Gasso’s team logged run rule victories in 40 of their 62 games this year, also a new record, and would have run ruled the Texas Longhorns in both WCWS championship series games if the mercy rule wasn’t exempt at that stage.
Ending the year with a dog pile in Oklahoma City, OU climbed to the mountaintop of the sport for the sixth time in program history and finished with a 59-3 record.
Oklahoma’s 2022 winning percentage fell a percentage point short of UCLA’s 1992 squad, but the Sooners were more dominant.
OU only dropped three games in 2022, once to Texas, once to Oklahoma State and once to UCLA, meaning every single loss Oklahoma sustained this year came to a team that reached the semifinals in the WCWS.
In other contests against the Longhorns, Cowgirls and Bruins this season, the Sooners went 10-0, outscoring the trio by a combined score of 82-14 in those 10 contests.
Oklahoma dominated seemingly every major statistical category as well this season.
The Sooners finished the season ranked first in batting average (.371), on base percentage (.474), home runs per game (2.50), slugging percentage (.734) and earned run average (1.05).
Even UCLA’s 1992 team couldn’t match that level of domination, as the Bruins finished 10th in batting average, second in ERA, 21st in scoring and eighth in home runs.
Oklahoma’s statistical dominance wasn’t just a product of beating up on a regular season schedule and barely making it across the finish line, either.
The Sooners posted run rule victories in five of their nine NCAA Tournament games before the WCWS championship series, too.
All told, Oklahoma outscored opponents 64-17 in Oklahoma City, dominating anyone who stood in OU’s way at the WCWS.
After the celebrations on the field subsided, Gasso said it was up to the media to decide if her 2022 squad was the best in the sport or not.
Alo was less bashful.
“I think this is the best team,” Alo said with a laugh on Thursday. “But one thing about Sooner softball, and I've seen it year in and year out, is they just continue to get better.
“I don't know what holds next year, but I know that they could be a run for the best team too and years to come.”
Though Gasso was just focused on enjoying the moment after winning her sixth National Championship, she did briefly offer a window into what she thought this team could be back in January when she was talking about how to motivate a team coming off a title-winning season.
“If my coach told me, ‘you could be the greatest softball team of all time,’ that would make me want to play hard,” she said. “That would get me fired up.”
Want to join the discussion? Click here to become a member of the AllSooners message board community today!
Follow AllSooners on Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest OU news.