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OU Softball: Healthy Again, Oklahoma P Jordy Bahl is Playing 'Free' Entering the Postseason

After an arm injury held Jordy Bahl out of a majority of last year's postseason run, she's ready to help the Sooners battle for a third straight national title in 2023.

NORMAN — Sandwiched between teammate Haley Lee and head coach Patty Gasso, Jordy Bahl looked happy.

The Sooners were under an hour removed from beating Texas 6-1 and capturing the 2023 Big 12 Tournament Championship at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.

Both Lee and Gasso had replaced their team-issued visors with Big 12 Champions hats, Bahl answered question from the media in her uniform, fresh off pitching in her first Big 12 Tournament.

Just a sophomore, Bahl is already has a national title and won the NFCA Freshman of the Year award, but she’s entering the postseason health for the first time.

This time last year, Bahl’s flame-throwing right arm had sustained an injury, keeping Oklahoma’s most dominant pitcher in the dugout for virtually the team’s entire postseason run.

“The injury was really devastating for her,” Gasso said of Bahl’s 2022 tournament experience on Wednesday. “Her whole life she's been waiting for that big moment. She wasn't present. That really. ... it hurt her and she felt like because of that it hurt the team.

“We wanted to show her — it's out of your control and we just kind of played free and tried to do it for her.”

Down but not out, Bahl found a way to contribute to OU’s championship run.

She made an appearance against UCLA in the Women’s College World Series semifinal, and then returned to take on Texas in Game 2 of last year’s Championship Series.

Bahl was far from herself, but she was still good enough to help fire the Sooners to the program’s sixth national title.

“I think one of the best moments of the season was seeing her, although she was maybe 40% pitching in the national championship game,” Gasso said. “And that was one, to reward her if she wanted it and two, give her the experience.”

Jordy Bahl, Alyssa Brito

Despite playing hurt, Jordy Bahl was still credited with the victory in Oklahoma's title-winning performance against Texas in the 2022 WCWS Championship Series. 

As the Sooners prepare to open the NCAA Tournament on Friday, Bahl has no such concerns.

Entering the tournament she’s healthy, and after a rocky start to the year by Bahl’s lofty standards, the talented sophomore has found her stride.

“I think (the injury) could hang on anybody,” Gasso said. “… But she’s going a good job of communicating and listening to what her body is telling her.

“… She's just very blue-collar style but she has grown into the position of, 'If I feel like my hamstring is hurting, I've got to say something so we can fix it or work on it or prevent it.’ And I think that's a big difference that I see from her.”

If Bahl has ever had to take things slower at practice, it hasn’t shown up once she’s taken the mound this year.

Gasso has pitched Bahl the most out of all the Sooner pitchers throwing 109 1/3 innings across 30 appearances this year. Bahl has rewarded Gasso’s faith, entering the postseason with an ERA of 1.15 and striking out 143 batters while only allowing 33 walks.

Opponents are batting just .160 off Bahl this year, all of which contributed to the right-hander being named in the top 10 of consideration for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year.

There hasn’t been a single step of Bahl’s journey — from handling the injury in the moment last year to rehabbing and gaining her confidence back in the circe — that’s surprised her teammates.

“She’s always been mature the minute she stepped on campus,” OU second baseman Tiare Jennings said on Wednesday. “So I think knowing her there’s not any too high or too low. She stays very neutral.”

And the excellence spills over into everything Bahl does off the field too, from weight training to other games the team participates in to keep things light throughout the year.

“Her in the weight room, watching her is insane” Jennings said. “… She’s just so strong in everything she does. So her in the weight room is super cool.

“… (And) when we have our little games, we play volleyball and play spike ball, and she gets after it. Super competitive in everything she does.”

As a result, Gasso carved out an even bigger role for Bahl this year.

Though not an everyday fixture in the batting lineup, Gasso has no reservations calling upon the sophomore to hit or run the bases.

Bahl was inserted into Game 2 of the Bedlam series to run the bases in the top of the seventh inning while Oklahoma was trying to mount a comeback, and she scored one of the decisive runs to lift the Sooners over the Cowgirls.

In 32 plate appearances this year, Bahl is batting .406 with eight RBIs and a pair of doubles.

“She's free and she's enjoying it and she's helping us in other ways,” Gasso said. “She was running bases in the Big 12 Championship game really well. Had a hit, had a hit-and-run on, she executed it really well. So she's just a lot more mature and a lot more relaxed.”

Despite rolling to a national title, Oklahoma may not have truly realized its full potential in last year’s NCAA Tournament without Bahl, but there’s no question she’ll be ready to roll this year, and the Sooners can’t wait to see what she brings to the table.

“Just knowing her mentality, she’s a grinder,” Jennings said. “I love playing behind her for just her demeanor and who she is.

“… I just always trust her. On the field, off the field, in a tough situation, I know that she’s going to come in and do her job and we’re going to do our job. So knowing that back and forth trust between her is something that’s huge for this team.”