By Arnie Leshin
Almost” is not the answer after you play Oklahoma University’s softball team. Neither is “moral victory.”
You can’t win either time. Nobody has, if you include once in almost 50 outings. This remarkable top-ranked team in the land has been on a roll, and this includes its lone loss in 49 starts at Big 12 rival Texas, except that it followed a pair of setbacks in Austin by a shutout and an 8-run romp.
Otherwise, this is part two after the defending national champions went 54-4 last season after another short trip to the World Series in Oklahoma City. Will it take that road again before the usual sold-out crowd at the picturesque Hall of Fame Stadium?
Right now the Sooners remain on their Norman campus after sweeping their state and conference rival Oklahoma State in a best-of-three series that brought another Big 12 title and again left the 7th-ranked Cowgirls ride home to Stillwater frustrated for they haven’t won in Norman since 1997.
If they wanted to finally hoist the NCAA Division I championship trophy. they would have to get past these Sooners, and that doesn’t appear likely until Oklahoma cools off, and that’s a guessing game, for this is a program that head coach Patty Gasso has pieced together, adding a few more weapons to an already lethal team.
They should be graduating six seniors — four redshirted — but as usual, Gasso has been the ideal recruiter. So far, five blue-chip high school players have committed to the Big Red from the Class of 2023, some after their junior seasons, most just contacting Gasso and she just reels them in.
Meanwhile, OSU arrived with high hopes instead of just calling in the scores, but one-two-three it fell before the rip-roaring fans on the road. Game one 7-1, game two 5-0, game three 5-3, and that one might have been close to being an “almost”, but that and a “moral victory” would not have been accepted.
In the finale, It was 2-0 Cowgirls after a two-run home run in the top of the first. Two innings later, it was 2-1, but when their starting pitcher, southpaw Kelly Maxwell, who also hurled game one, hit her 2nd and 3rd batters, then walked lead-off batter, sophomore flash Jayda Coleman, on a full count to fill the bases in the last of the fourth, up stepped Division I career home run owner Jocelyn Alo, who had struck out on three pitches in her first at bat.
With two down, Alo swung and missed the first pitch, a fastball, next she took a rise ball for strike two, and then came a pitch she lit into and parked it high over the fence in right field. It was now 5-2, OSU tacked on a run in the sixth, but “almost” was erased and there was no “moral victory” except for a closer game of the three although it was outscored 17-4.
The Sooners celebrated after the final out and got to hoist another Big 12 Conference trophy, and then joined hands in a circle with their bedlam rivals as they usually do after their contest is over.
Now the Cowgirls await what the national tournament selection committee hands out in Sunday’s day of reckoning. The Sooners will be the No. 1 seed and will probably get to play their post-season in their home state, first hosting the Big 12 tournament, then the regional, then the super regional, then the World Series.
Good luck to the others, but “almost” and “moral victory” might not exist.
Now If you thought the Oklahoma University softball team hasn’t done much, you should take some time to look this over. It’s much more than you thought, so take your time to go through each remarkable accomplishment:
1. Has broken NCAA Division I best start by going 36-0 to better UCLA’s 35-0 in 1999.
2. Has won 38 of 49 games via run rule.
3. Has won 35 of 49 games via shutouts.
4. Has outscored the opposition 374-30, with only 19 runs earned.
5. Has hit home runs in 40 of 49 games that includes two or more in 31 games, four or more in 14 games, five or more in five games, six or more in four games, seven once.
6. Team batting average .422.
7. Team slugging average .844.
8. Team on base percentage .584.
9. Nine players have hit two or more home runs in a game.
10. Five players have at least 10 home runs.
11. One hundred and four home runs are 24 more than 2nd place UNC Charlotte.
12. Even if they hit only solo homes with no singles, doubles or triples, would still outscore other teams 24 times.
13. Five players have driven in more than four runs eight times.
14. Senior Jocelyn Alo has most Division I career home runs.
15. Alo also broke Division I home run record with No. 96 In Hawaii.
16. Pitching staff No. 1 in country with 0:57 earned run average.
17. Have thrown six no-hitters, so far tied for most in a single season.
18. Pitchers Hope Trautwin, a senior, and Nicole May, a sophomore, are undefeated, and freshman phenom Jordy Bahl has lost once and is 23-1.
19. Have lost only at Texas, 4-2, in game three after winning games one and two 3-0, 9-1.
20. Team has played all its home games before capacity crowds.
21. Team has played all its road games before an average of 1,698.
22. Has won 10 in row after Texas defeat.
23. Has defeated eight ranked teams, swept each one in more than one game, and this includes No. 3 UCLA, No. 6 Kentucky, No. 7 Oklahoma State, No. 8 Arizona, and No. 9 Tennessee.
22. Now on track to win its 14th Big 12 Conference championship in a row.
23. Is on the road to play all of its 2022 post-season games in Oklahoma.
24. Is seeking its fifth national championship.
25. How’s that, two dozen remarkable wonders by the No. 1-ranked Sooners?
DRUM ROLL FOR THE CURRENT TOP-25 NATIONAL DIVISION I RANKINGS:
2. VIRGINIA TECH
3. FLORIDA STATE
6. OKLAHOMA STATE
11. ARIZONA STATE
16. CENTRAL FLORIDA
20. NOTRE DAME
21. SAN DIEGO STATE
25. WICHITA STATE