Oklahoma softball has started the season right where it left off: scoring runs.
Through the Sooners’ first five games of 2023, they’ve outscored opponents 29-5 and run-ruled teams twice, including No. 17 Stanford. The dominance should not come as a surprise for the reigning national champions, who are coming off back-to-back titles in 2021 and 2022.
But if you ask head coach Patty Gasso, the team is not thinking about a three-peat.
“We don’t talk about winning three,” she said. “Those are words that we’re not really talking about around here because it’s premature. It’s really about the process. It’s the journey. It’s all of that, all the work we put in.”
The No. 1 team in the country, Oklahoma is without Jocelyn Alo for the first time in five years after the NCAA career home runs leader graduated. But they’re not without the talent to fill her shoes.
Junior slugger Tiare Jennings is one of the best players in the country, setting World Series records last season with 15 RBIs and five home runs. Sophomore pitcher Jordy Bahl should benefit from having a year of experience under her belt, and redshirt senior Grace Lyons is coming off a career season in which she recorded 23 home runs and 70 RBIs.
Still, Gasso feels as though the team could settle in better, despite a 5-0 start in the opening weekend in which the Sooners dominated their opponents on the scoreboard.
“I thought nerves definitely were there,” she told The Oklahoman. “The first two games on Thursday, we were not ourselves. We were not. And we were lucky to get out of there with two wins.
“Our expectations and our standards are quite high, and they know that. They know they were lucky to walk out of there with five wins. This weekend, we’re looking forward to getting things straightened out.”
While she’s proud of how her team responded at times, she recognizes the need for players to let loose a little more.
“We’ve got to breathe, we’ve got to slow things down, we’ve got to not make the game too big,” she said. “I think they know how good our team is, and I think they try hard because they want to stay in their positions.”