OU Softball: Oklahoma's 'Invincible' Core 5 Close Their Careers as Softball Icons

Patty Gasso's senior class won a national title every single year of their careers, a feat that will never be surpassed.
Oklahoma outfielder Rylie Boone (0) holds up the championship trophy following Game 2 of the NCAA softball Women's College World Series Championship Series game between the Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and Texas Longhorns at Devon Park in Oklahoma City, Thursday, June, 6, 2024.
Oklahoma outfielder Rylie Boone (0) holds up the championship trophy following Game 2 of the NCAA softball Women's College World Series Championship Series game between the Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and Texas Longhorns at Devon Park in Oklahoma City, Thursday, June, 6, 2024. / SARAH PHIPPS/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY

OKLAHOMA CITY — Tiare Jennings, Jayda Coleman, Rylie Boone, Kinzie Hansen and Nicole May arrived in Norman as bright-eyed freshmen with a dream. 

They’ll depart Norman as living softball legends. 

Thursday night they accomplished the unthinkable. 

Patty Gasso’s Core 5, along with their 16 other teammates, closed out the most dominant run in softball history. 

No program has won four consecutive titles. 

Not until Oklahoma. 

“It wasn't easy, this season,” Gasso said after OU beat Texas 8-4 at Devon Park to capture the program’s eighth title. “… It's probably the hardest coaching season that I've had in a while because of a lot of the naysayers, a lot of — I don't know.

“It's heavy. It's just I don't know how to explain how heavy. 'Heavy is the head that wears the crown' is the one thing that really stuck out. I heard someone say that. That really has felt true. It's been exhausting. These players are exhausted, but they keep going. It's the love for each other. It's the love for the game. It's the love for the university. But they're elite athletes who have extreme passion.”

The group finished 235-15 over the last four years, bagging three Big 12 regular season titles and three Big 12 tournament crowns to add to the national championships. 

They finished 47-5 at Devon Park, formerly USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium. 

But the last title was by far the hardest. 

OU lost eight games from 2021-2023, but seven in 2024. 

The Sooners fell in a conference series for the first time since 2011, and then again in the final series of the year to Oklahoma State. 

Florida had the champions stunned, trailing 5-2 after three innings of an elimination game. 

It didn’t matter. 

The Sooners rose to the occasion because it’s all they know how to do. 

“I think we've hit some times where we were kind of low,” Gasso said. “I just felt they really look forward to postseason. They're very resilient. They feel invincible. That's the way they play.

“You hear their faith has a lot to do with this. So they're never afraid. They're not afraid to lose. This is bigger than a game for them. It's about life. It's about trust. It's about all kinds of things that they've changed each other's lives with.”

The last four teams will live forever in the NCAA record books, and Oklahoma has brought eyeballs to the sport, driving interest to all-time highs. 

The Sooners were also hated. 

As is the plight of any dynasty, infatuation and admiration quickly turns sour. 

Nobody in the program is blind to it, no matter how insulated the team tries to be. 

“As we went on, if we lost one game, two games, lost to Texas, everyone had an opinion about us,” Coleman said. “It was frustrating just to see everyone on Twitter, TikTok hoping anybody else but us.

“Well ... That didn't happen, so ... We're blessed.”

Life will move forward. 

Hansen, Jennings and Karlie Keeney will be on staff as graduate assistants in Norman next year, Gasso said. Hansen, Jennings, Coleman and pitcher Kelly Maxwell will play internationally this summer.

They’ll all have chances to chase professional dreams, as well as move into the next phase of life. 

Gasso will be hard at work rebuilding — and there will be a rebuild because there is simply no replacing Jennings, Coleman, Hansen, Boone and May. 

Everyone is still gunning for Oklahoma. 

But Gasso’s Core 5 will live forever as the best class in the history of the sport — a group that cannot be surpassed. 

“What's really weird for me is in four years, I've never had a cry up here,” Gasso said from the podium. “… I haven't felt the hurt of the last loss. 

“That is just incomprehensible at this level. It's crazy. But it's an honor.”


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Ryan Chapman

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.