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OU Softball: Patty Gasso Looking to 'Fine Tune' Oklahoma at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic

The top-ranked Sooners are still unbeaten, but Patty Gasso believes there's much more to come out of her team as OU continues to grow into the 2024 season.

NORMAN — Patty Gasso was crystal clear this week.

She wants to see more from her top-ranked Sooners.

Oklahoma (9-0) has been “good enough to win” in Gasso’s summation, but she has much higher standards for her team.

Tuesday, Gasso said she wanted to see her team work harder in virtually every area.

“I am hoping it's going to look stronger, faster, momentum building, aggressive, hustling, blue collar,” she said. “All those things that this program was built off of is what we need to bring back to this team.”

The Sooners have a penchant for raising their game another level when the lights are brightest, however, which is exactly what will happen this weekend.

Oklahoma flies west for the 2024 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, an annual softball showcase.

How to Watch Oklahoma at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic:

  • Game 1: Oklahoma vs. No. 25 Mississippi State, Friday, 7:30 p.m., FloSoftball
  • Game 2: Oklahoma vs. Wisconsin, Friday, 10 p.m., FloSoftball
  • Game 3: Oklahoma vs. San Diego State, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., FloSoftball
  • Game 4: Oklahoma vs. Seattle, Sunday, 11 a.m., FloSoftball
  • Game 5: Oklahoma vs. Loyola Marymount, Sunday, 1:30 p.m., FloSoftball

In years past, the Sooners have played in highly anticipated top 10 matchups, including last year’s top two battle between OU and UCLA, bringing the best out of Gasso’s team.

This weekend Oklahoma lacks a true marquee matchup, but the Sooners have plenty of quality opposition to look forward to.

Former Sooner Sam Ricketts’ No. 25 Mississippi Sate team enters the Mary Nutter fresh off strong ranked victories over Clemson and Utah.

Wisconsin pushed Oklahoma State last weekend, and San Diego State is looking for a stunning upset over the Sooners on Saturday as the Aztecs hope to capitalize off last year’s dream NCAA Tournament run.

“Mississippi State is very good,” Gasso said. “… And that’s our first game (on Friday). So it’s going to be a tough one right out of the chute. Wisconsin is a good team. A very aggressive team. They’re the squeeze, the swing-and-miss, steal. They try to create things to keep you off balance defensively. And good pitching as well. So we’ve got our hands full the first day.”

Sunday OU will close the weekend against Seattle and Loyola Marymount, rounding out a packed five-game slate.

As always, the crowd will be a major factor for Oklahoma to navigate as well.

In years past, the Sooners’ following at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic has drawn Gasso to compare her team to the Beatles, as the stands are overrun with fans flocking to see OU take the field.

“It's chaos out there,” Gasso said. “It is just people everywhere. We try to get — we bring administrators to move us around. We bring security to move us around because you have to walk through crowds to get there. So it's going to be quite different for a lot of these athletes that were on the other side sitting it the stands watching.”

Sophomore pitcher Kierston Deal remembers last year’s weekend in Palm Springs well, as it opened her eyes to the atmosphere that surrounds Oklahoma softball.

“It definitely gives you a little bit of taste of what the World Series is like for sure,” she said on Tuesday. “Just the amount of people that are surrounding the games and stuff, but you really learn how to control the game with your teammates and everyone and slow the game down when you're in a type of environment like that so I'm excited to see what it looks like this year.”

Luckily for Gasso, the Sooners have plenty of veterans to rely on.

Tiare Jennings, Kinzie Hansen, Jayda Coleman, Rylie Boone, Alyssa Brito and Nicole May have fought through their fair share of battles at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, and Kelly Maxwell has experienced the Women’s College World Series in full effect on multiple occasions.

But for transfers and freshmen alike, it will be the first experience in the raucous atmosphere wearing the Crimson and Cream, which brings a different level of expectation.

The Sooners will get every opponent’s best shot, with teams trying to end OU’s 62-game winning streak. But the fans also hope to catch a glimpse of the show — one Oklahoma will hope to put on across each outing.

OU’s strong California contingent, headlined by Jennings, Hansen, May and Brito but including true freshman Ella Parker as well as Quincee Lilio, Hannah Coor and Cydney Sanders, knows what to expect. They grew up dreaming of big moments in Palm Springs, something Gasso hopes they’ll deliver once again this weekend.

“Now you're in the middle and this is like their dream come true,” Gasso said. “Because it's a California player's dream. This is Mary Nutter. It's the premier tournament. And as bad as the fields are they don't care. They want to play in front of their family and their friends and that's what they grew up on.

“So it's a big deal to them. And that's why we've got to fine tune this.”