Weekend Wrap: Oklahoma Searching For a Response After Dropping Massive Texas Series

Patty Gasso isn't overly concerned, but Oklahoma's roster hasn't had to rebound from a series defeat in Big 12 play since 2011.

AUSTIN, TX — Oklahoma’s roster is in unfamiliar territory. 

The Sooners dropped Saturday and Sunday’s contests against Texas, the first time OU lost a three-game series since 2019. 

Only Patty Gasso and associate head coaches Jennifer Rocha and JT Gasso had experienced a series defeat as Sooners before Sunday, as none of OU’s current players had even lost back-to-back games in an Oklahoma uniform. 

OU struck first in all three games, but Texas roared back in similar manners to capture back-to-back wins. 

The No. 4-ranked Longhorns frustrated the top-ranked Sooners’ lineup, preventing Oklahoma from stringing together hits to put the game out of reach. 

Gasso’s squad stranded five runners on Saturday and eight on Sunday, contributing to the program’s first series defeat in Big 12 play since 2011.

The Middle Misfires

Oklahoma first baseman Cydney Sanders went 0-for-6 against Texas, drawing a pair of walks.
Oklahoma first baseman Cydney Sanders went 0-for-6 against Texas, drawing a pair of walks. / Briana Sanchez/American-Statesman / USA

Part of what makes OU’s lineup so dangerous is any player can rise up and take over an entire series. 

The constant stress top-to-bottom heaps pressure on opposing pitchers, which in itself can lead to mistakes if someone tries to force the issue. 

Oklahoma relied on the very top and bottom of the order on Friday, but got minimal contributions from the heart of the lineup every day. 

Cydney Sanders, who entered the weekend with a .328 batting average, went 0-for-6 in Austin, only drawing a pair of walks on Friday. 

Second baseman Alynah Torres went 0-for-9 in the series, and outfielder Kasidi Pickering ended the weekend 2-for-7 with a walk. 

Pickering’s double in the first inning on Saturday might have been converted into a run when Tiare Jennings singled if not for a freshman mistake on the base paths. 

“This is a learning experience,” Alyssa Brito said Sunday, “and this is something we needed as an offense to push us because they are a really good staff. 

“They have really good arms, consistently. This is only going to prepare us for what's to come and I'm excited to see how we respond collectively. That's probably the main thing.”

The Sooners turned zero of the five walks they combined to draw on Saturday and Sunday into runs as they were unable to keep the momentum rolling on offense. 

Gasso was pleased with Ella Parker’s contributions all weekend, highlighted by her Sunday outing where she finished 2-for-3 at the plate with a solo home run. 

“Ella Parker had some really good, freshman battles at the plate and I’m really proud of her,” Gasso said. “She looked really different this weekend. Just excited about her future as well.”

Maxwell Cements Her Status as Ace

Patty Gasso called upon Oklahoma left-hander Kelly Maxwell to start two of the three games against Texas.
Patty Gasso called upon Oklahoma left-hander Kelly Maxwell to start two of the three games against Texas. / Briana Sanchez/American-Statesman / USA

In her last three starts, Oklahoma pitcher Kelly Maxwell has allowed just seven combined hits.

She carried a no-hitter bid against Kansas all the way into the seventh inning, falling just one batter short of the feat. 

Friday, it took Texas until the fifth inning to get a hit off the dominant left-hander, and it took until the seventh inning for a Longhorn to arrive safely on second base. 

Maxwell was so good in the opening game of the series that Gasso turned back to her on Sunday. 

Oklahoma didn’t win, but the loss was not on Maxwell’s shoulders. She held the Longhorns to just a pair of runs in 4 2/3 innings, only allowing Katie Stewart a two-run home run that barely escaped Red & Charline McCombs Field. 

“She’s no different than what she was last year,” Texas coach Mike White said after Friday’s contest. “She’s pretty tough. There’s a reason why Oklahoma picked her up.”

In many ways, Maxwell is actually better than she was a year ago at Oklahoma State. 

Her ERA is down to 1.72 from her 2023 mark of 2.46, and her walks and hits allowed per inning pitched is down to 0.90 from finishing 2023 at 1.06.

Maxwell hasn’t completely matched her 2022 dominance, but she’s clearly emerged as Oklahoma’s ace under Rocha, the Sooners’ ssociate head coach and pitching coach.

“This is the best I’ve seen her,” Gasso said on Sunday. “Confident, cool, calm, execution, getting ahead… She handled herself well. I’m telling you, their offense and our offense, it’s almost side by side looking identical. So for us to shut them down to two runs, that’s a big deal. But for them to shut us down to one is bigger. 

“… But one big takeaway that’s very good for us, is the work of Kelly this weekend in a big atmosphere against big-time hitters.”

Maxwell was the first Oklahoma pitcher to start two games in a conference series this year, ending the weekend 1-1.

She allowed a pair of runs in each outing, fighting off Texas’ adjustments as she worked through the Longhorn lineup over five times. 

“I knew today was gonna be tough,” Maxwell said on Sunday. “Credit Texas’ offense for picking up on my mistakes. But I think there’s more opportunity to learn and grow from this weekend.”

Gasso needs Maxwell to continue her ascension throughout the end of the year. 

Fellow senior and Big 12 veteran Nicole May has a 2.37 ERA in conference battles in 2024. Kierston Deal gave OU big outs on Saturday and Sunday against Texas, though she’s only pitched 14 1/3 innings in conference play compared to Maxwell’s 38 1/3 innings and May’s 23 2/3 innings of work. 

Liberty transfer Karlie Keeney has still yet to allow a run in conference action, but she’s pitched just nine innings in relief. 

Back Into the Fire

Oklahoma co-captain Tiare Jennings will work to get her team back on track this week, starting on Tuesday against Wichita State.
Oklahoma co-captain Tiare Jennings will work to get her team back on track this week, starting on Tuesday against Wichita State. / BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY

Oklahoma won’t have much time to sit around and think about the weekend. 

The Sooners head straight back out on the road on Tuesday to take on Wichita State in a game that was rescheduled from March 26.

Gasso’s team prides themselves on being able to bounce back and respond to adversity, something they’ll hope to show when they get back on the field. 

“I'm not too worried about it, honestly,” Brito said on Sunday. “… The sun rises again tomorrow and we get to go to practice and work and get at it for another day.”

Catcher and co-captain Kinzie Hansen showed similar faith in her team on Saturday.

“We didn't make adjustments fast enough,” she said, “which is very uncharacteristic for our lineup so we definitely are reaping the consequences of that. But I'm excited to see what it looks like going forward because whenever this does happen, our adjustments are much more efficient.”

First pitch between Wichita State and Oklahoma is slated for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, then OU will host BYU at Love’s Field starting Thursday in the Sooners’ return to the Big 12 slate. 

“We needed this, we needed to feel this,” Gasso said. “Are we broken, are we shaken? Absolutely not. What we need to do, and we know, is go back to Norman and reset.”

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.