Weekend Wrap: Oklahoma Hopes Sunday's 'Breath of Fresh Air' Salvaged Bedlam Before the Weekend's Big 12 Tournament

The Sooners dropped the series to Oklahoma State, but Patty Gasso hopes Sunday's strong performance can spark her team headed into the postseason.

NORMAN — Oklahoma’s 11-year reign as Big 12 regular season champions came to an end this past weekend, but it’s not the Sooners’ only chance to add to the trophy case before the NCAA Tournament. 

OU’s first Big 12 series loss to Oklahoma State since 1997 will see Texas take the field as the 1-seed at Hall of Fame Stadium next weekend, but Patty Gasso hopes Sunday’s win over the Cowgirls will jolt her team back to life as the postseason gets rolling.

The Sooners were in both of the first two Bedlam contests, but fell apart late. 

Part of those losses was placed at the feet of the pitching staff, who gave up seven home runs in the losses to the Cowgirls.

But OU’s offense sputtered again.

Oklahoma loaded the bases in the first inning of Friday’s series opener, but only plated a single run off a walk. 

Saturday with the bases loaded again, the same exact series of events played out. 

OU scored on a walk, that was it. 

No thunderous home run. No stringing together hits. 

Stranding runners had hurt the Sooners all throughout conference play, and Gasso said she had no real answer for the struggles. 

“What we're talking about as a team is just we're never going to quit,” Gasso said after OU’s loss on Saturday. “You'll never see this team quit. So it's just, it's just sometimes it just takes time and when it breaks open, it's going to flood. I mean we are going to go off on that.”

Sunday, Oklahoma looked as if it would follow the same script. 

Freshman Kasidi Pickering put the Sooners up with a two-run home run, but the Cowgirls plated a pair to tire the game immediately. 

Then, OU looked like its old self. 

Jayda Coleman put the Sooners back on front with an RBI-single and she finally sparked a monster rally. 

Ella Parker belted a three-run shot. Then Tiare Jennings hammered a home run, and Hannah Coor rounded out the frame with an RBI-single. 

Finally the gates opened, and finally the Sooners played with confidence. 

“There was something definitely different,” Gasso said about Sunday’s win. “… This was bigger than a victory for us today… Now I know we are in a good place.”

The next time Oklahoma takes the field, a loss will end OU’s stay at the Big 12 Tournament will come to an end. 

Double-elimination action will then begin in full swing in the NCAA Tournament.

To fight back from the struggles in series losses to Texas and Oklahoma State, Oklahoma will have to stay aggressive and be on the attack. Only time will tell if Sunday was the necessary shift for the lineup. 

Limiting home runs will be the first order of business for OU’s pitching staff in the postseason, that’s the obvious piece. 

But the Sooners still have massive questions when the ball gets handed from the starting pitcher to the first arm out of the bullpen. 

Kelly Maxwell and Kierston Deal again struggled in relief appearances against Oklahoma State, a far cry from the dominant pitchers both left-handers have been when starting games. 

Karlie Keeney gave up no runs out of the bullpen on Friday and Saturday, and the pair of runs scored after she reentered on Sunday were credited to Deal. 

She’ll have to be the first option to close down a game for Gasso and associate head coach and pitching coach Jennifer Rocha in the postseason, but one pitcher won’t get it done throughout the entire NCAA Tournament. 

“(Keeney’s performance) was probably the highlight of the game to us (Sunday),” Gasso said. “… She handled it like a pro, so it just makes us feel really confident going forward that she's ready to go in in the tough moments.”

Off the field, OU will have to handle business in the classroom during finals week. 

Then the Sooners will take on either Houston or Kansas in their first game of the Big 12 Tournament Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. 

“There's been times when we've looked up at the scoreboard, and you're like, 'Oh, no,' and we've never been that team,” Gasso said on Sunday. “We've always felt like we have the bat in our hand, we could be down by any number and feel like we're still gonna win. 

“… This was just a breath of fresh air… We really need to use that platform to really have everything in good order before we start the postseason.”

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.