OU Softball: Patty Gasso Makes History Again as Oklahoma Takes Down Texas for Softball National Championship

The No. 2 Sooners stomped No. 1 Texas twice to win their eighth national title and their unprecedented fourth in a row.
Cydney Sanders
Cydney Sanders / Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

OKLAHOMA CITY — Patty Gasso always seems to push the right buttons.

Sometimes those buttons might not even be on the board, but the Oklahoma coach still finds a way to make them work.

Thursday night against Texas, Gasso pulled off an all-timer.

The Sooners and their Hall of Fame coach won their eighth national championship — and their fourth in a row, an unprecedented feat in the history of the collegiate game — with an 8-4 win over rival Texas in the Women’s College World Series.

On a roster loaded with 10 seniors and five All-Americans and some of the greatest talent to ever lace up the spikes, Gasso plucked a couple of pitchers from deep in the bullpen, went with a hot youngster over a healthy starter at second base and even stayed with a struggling veteran who ended up delivering the biggest hit of the game.

Gasso surprised the softball world — and certainly the No. 1-seeded Longhorns — by inserting Karlie Keeney as the Sooners’ starting pitcher.

Texas probably didn’t have much scouting report on Keeney, who came in with a 6-1 record with a 1.66 earned run average and had just four starts on the season — none since May 5. Her only appearance since May 24 was one third of an inning against Florida earlier in the WCWS.

Keeney had appeared in four NCAA Tournament games, though. But nothing in her 59 innings this season prepared her for Thursday: no big deal, just go beat the No. 1 team in the country and your arch-rival to win the national championship.

But the Liberty transfer held her own. Despite four hits and four walks, she only allowed two runs in 2 2/3 innings.

It was at that point that Gasso reached even deeper in the bullpen, dusting off flamethrower Paytn Monticelli, who had thrown just 19 innings all season (one start). Monticelli hadn’t pitched since May 9, when she went 2 innings against Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament. For the season, she had a 0-0 record with a 1.11 ERA.

But Monticelli came in after Keeney loaded the bases with two out and got a groundout to first to end the Longhorn rally in the third.

Gasso also went to sophomore Avery Hodge to play second base instead of senior Alynah Torres.

That was actually an easy one, as Hodge has turned it up for the WCWS, routinely making tough plays at second and even delivering some clutch offensive moments. With four hits in the series, including a couple of doubles, Hodge raised her season batting average from .266 to .284. She got the call over Torres, who was hit in the face with a fly ball against UCLA and returned to the field as a pinch-hitter Wednesday night.

On Thursday, with a two-run lead ebbing away and Texas starting to seize the momentum in the sixth inning, Hodge made an unbelievably heady play to kill the Longhorn rally.

Texas’ Mia Scott reached on an infield single that scored Joley Mitchell from third base and cut it to a 5-4 OU lead. Hodge had to charge Scott’s slow roller but couldn’t get the ball in her glove. She stayed with it, grabbed it up and looked to the infield as Scott reached first base. But as Scott rounded first, Hodge looked over her left shoulder and quickly flipped the ball behind Scott to Cydney Sanders at first base, who easily tagged out Scott for the third out.

And it was Sanders who came through in the fourth inning with the biggest hit of the game — and her career.

Texas led 3-2, but the Sooners had loaded the bases on three straight singles. 

Instead of digging around for a pinch-hitter — Torres, perhaps, or Riley Ludlam — she let Sanders bat in the biggest moment of the game, and Sander chunked a ball off the wall in right-center field to give the Sooners a 5-3 lead.

Ace Kelly Maxwell came in and closed the game in the circle, joining the likes of recent national champs Gisele Juarez, Hope Trautwein and Jordy Bahl.

The Sooners’ usual suspects also had their usual moments. Jayda Coleman had two hits and an RBI, Rylie Boone had three hits, Kinzie Hansen and Alyssa Brito had timely hits, Kasidi Pickering had two hits and two RBIs, and Ella Parker had a two-run double in the Sooners’ three-run sixth that put the game away.

Oklahoma’s coronation yet again on this day always seemed inevitable after Wednesday’s 8-3 Red River Romp. Texas still hasn’t beaten the Sooners in the Sooner State since 2014.

But when Keeney and Monticelli and Hodge and Sanders are delivering key hits, big defensive plays and important pitches, what chance did the Longhorns ever have?

Especially in front of another rabid crowd of 12,324 at the Sooners’ home away from home?

Simply put, college softball has never seen this kind of sustained dominance.

Arizona won eight national titles in 16 years from 1991-2007. UCLA, the all-time leader with 11 national titles, started in 1982 (the first recognized by the NCAA) and won their most recent one in 2019, a span of 37 years.

Oklahoma’s eight national titles under Patty Gasso — tied for second all-time with Arizona — have come in a 25-year stretch, 2000-2024. But Gasso’s last seven championships were recorded in a 12-year stretch from 2013 to 2024, with back-to-back trophies in 2016 and ’17 and now an unprecedented four in a row.

UCLA (1988-89-90) is the only other program to win three in a row.

The Bruins and Wildcats combined for 13 of the first 16 NCAA crowns. But the end of their run of dominance coincided with a decade from 2005 to 2014 where the power shifted away from the UCLA-Arizona cabal and saw the introduction of five first-time national champions (Michigan in ’05, Arizona State in ’08, Washington in ’09, Alabama in ’12 and Florida in ’14).

It was at that point that, instead of capitulating to the coming unfettered growth of the sport, Gasso seized the vacuum of power and began to bend collegiate softball to her will.

Now, the coach they call the GOAT — Greatest of All Time — ties Arizona’s Mike Candrea and UCLA’s Sharon Backus with her eighth national championship, the most by any college softball coach.


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John E. Hoover

JOHN E. HOOVER

John is an award-winning journalist whose work spans five decades in Oklahoma, with multiple state, regional and national awards as a sportswriter at various newspapers. During his newspaper career, John covered the Dallas Cowboys, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Oklahoma Sooners, the Oklahoma State Cowboys, the Arkansas Razorbacks and much more. In 2016, John changed careers, migrating into radio and launching a YouTube channel, and has built a successful independent media company, DanCam Media. From there, John has written under the banners of Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, Fan Nation and a handful of local and national magazines while hosting daily sports talk radio shows in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and statewide. John has also spoken on Capitol Hill in Oklahoma City in a successful effort to put more certified athletic trainers in Oklahoma public high schools. Among the dozens of awards he has won, John most cherishes his national "Beat Writer of the Year" from the Associated Press Sports Editors, Oklahoma's "Best Sports Column" from the Society of Professional Journalists, and Two "Excellence in Sports Medicine Reporting" Awards from the National Athletic Trainers Association. John holds a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications from East Central University in Ada, OK. Born and raised in North Pole, Alaska, John played football and wrote for the school paper at Ada High School in Ada, OK. He enjoys books, movies and travel, and lives in Broken Arrow, OK, with his wife and two kids.