For those lucky enough to have caught the end of the Women’s College World Series, they witnessed a masterclass by Oklahoma. In what exactly? Take your pick: Handling pressure. A dominant offense. A stifling defense. Clutch pitching.
This Oklahoma Sooner softball team is the Alabama of football. They are the Duke of basketball. But better.
In The Wire’s WCWS preview, Oklahoma was on a 48-game heater. We can officially say that the Sooners are three-peat champions. They are now in the midst of a 53-game winning streak. This level of success is unprecedented, and frankly may not ever be repeated. The pressure of maintaining such excellence was not lost on the team throughout their historic run.
“It is incredibly hard,” said Patty Gasso, head coach of the Sooners.. “I don’t know how to explain it. I just can tell you the way I feel right now is free because the expectation is overwhelming, the pressure is overwhelming. They (our players) all have each other to laugh with. I’m standing here (on the interview podium) by myself, so that’s why you’re hearing my voice do this (quivering).”
“It’s so crazy to see how our lives have changed. The fans in Oklahoma are absolutely fantastic, (but) it starts to feel like you’re getting smothered a little bit because everybody wants something. I heard (our players) talking about it.”
When you set a precedent of success like Oklahoma has, fan expectations will rise rapidly. That’s where the Sooners are at now. That’s where they’ve been. But that’s why they’re the best.
Led by their exceptional pitcher Jordy Bahl, the Oklahoma Sooners demonstrated their unwavering determination and unrivaled skill throughout the series. In the opening game, Bahl’s masterful display on the mound stifled the Seminoles’ offense, setting the tone for Oklahoma’s relentless pursuit of victory.
Bahl’s stellar performance carried over to the second game, where she showcased her versatility by closing out the contest by retiring all nine batters she faced. She was named the tournament’s most outstanding player as a result.
While the Seminoles briefly held a lead in the deciding game, it never truly threatened the Sooners’ grasp on the championship. Oklahoma’s composure and confidence remained unshaken, proving their status as the team to beat.
FSU took a 1-0 lead with a solo homer in the fourth, but OU quickly countered in the next inning. Cydney Sanders and Grace Lyons responded with back-to-back solo homers, their 11th instance this season.
The Sooners put on a show for the crowd of 12,195, but the person most impressed by their dominance may have been the opposing coach. FSU coach and former OU player Lonni Alameda spoke glowingly of her alma mater’s dominance.
“They’re just firing on all cylinders,” said Alameda. “We gave our best for that, but they’re really good. Oklahoma does a really good job. They do a good job in all cylinders from recruiting to developing to meeting the NIL, development of program and team. It’s really an honor to compete against the highest level. We talked about that today. It can be frustrating at times or it can raise our game. It’s raising our game. It’s making me a better coach. It was just really cool. Hats off to them.”
Championships and the ensuing celebrations are something everyone hopes for and looks forward to. But for this Sooners squad, they’ve just upped the ante. A record-breaking streak, coupled with their third championship in a row has ramped the pressure up even more.
“The fact that we got here and we won this is just mind-boggling with all of the wave of pressure and so forth. I could not be more proud of this group,” said Gasso. “To be sitting up here and telling you this is still kind of amazing because everybody’s out to get us. They want to bring down the Evil Empire, whatever it is. I don’t know. We just want to play ball. That’s all.”
Their star-status is growing, and if this year’s WCWS was any indication, they are well-equipped to handle it. The bid for a four-peat starts now.
“There’s always something to do next,” said Jayda Coleman. “We just got done celebrating. All right. There’s always something that we got to go to next.”
In the meantime, they’ve earned the right to celebrate as the most dominant team in NCAA softball history. Good luck to the rest of the field next year.
(Photo by Johnny Smiley/OU Athletics)