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Oklahoma softball and the top dynasties in women’s college sports

Oklahoma became just the second team to win three consecutive NCAA Division I softball titles. (Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Oklahoma softball cemented its status as one of the greatest programs in women’s college sports, winning its third straight Women’s College World Series title, its fifth in the last seven years and its seventh overall.

The Sooners’ performance this season – which included an NCAA-record 53 consecutive victories and counting – begs the question: Who are the top dynasties in women’s college sports? While this list is by no means exhaustive, Just Women’s Sports takes a look at 10 programs in addition to Oklahoma who can count themselves among the best.

LSU Track & Field (25 titles)

LSU is the most successful team in the history of NCAA Division I women’s track and field, with 25 total titles — 14 at the outdoor championships and 11 at the indoor championships. The Tigers ran off 11 straight outdoor titles from 1987-97 and five straight indoor titles from 1993-97. Their most recent championship came in 2008 at the outdoor championships.

UNC Soccer (21 titles)

UNC women’s soccer might be the most successful women’s team in NCAA history, across all sports, with a capital P period. Just six other programs have multiple titles in women’s soccer, with none of them even reaching double digits. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, have 21 of them – all of which have come under head coach Anson Dorrance, which makes him the third-most national title-winning coach in NCAA history.

UNC won the first three national titles in NCAA women’s soccer history starting in 1982, before George Mason upset the Tar Heels in 1985. But in 1986, UNC was back on top, reeling off nine consecutive national titles thanks to the likes of Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly.

Starting with the 1980s, there hasn’t been a decade in which North Carolina hasn’t won a national title, although the program’s last one came back in 2012. Since then, Florida State has turned itself into a perennial contender with three national championships, while UCLA has won two.

Maryland Lacrosse (14 titles)

In the sport of women’s lacrosse, two teams have established themselves as dynasties: Maryland and Northwestern. Maryland has won 14 NCAA titles, the most in the history of the sport, with their most recent coming in 2019. From 1995 to 2001, the team rattled off seven straight titles, then won four titles in a six-year span from 2014 to 2019. All but one of those titles came under former coach Cindy Timchal and current coach Cathy Reese.

UCLA Softball (12 titles)

While Oklahoma may be creeping up on UCLA with its seven titles, the Bruins still have won the most in NCAA softball history with 12. The winners of the first-ever Women’s College World Series, they haven’t stopped winning since then, including their run of three straight titles from 1988 to 1990 – a feat only matched by Oklahoma. The Bruins’ last title came in 2019.

UConn Basketball (11 titles)

UConn is always in the conversation when it comes to contenders for the NCAA women’s basketball championship. The Huskies won their first title in 1995, and since then they have been in a battle with Tennessee for the best program in NCAA history. UConn rattled off three titles in a row from 2002-04, then four in a row from 2013-16. The 2016 run stands as the program’s most recent championship.

The Huskies also dominate the regular season, with many of the game’s best – from Diana Taurasi to Sue Bird – creating a force to be reckoned with. From 2014-17, the Huskies rattled off a win-streak of 111 games. They also compiled a regular-season conference winning streak of 145 games, which ended in 2022.

Stanford Swimming & Diving (11 titles)

A perennial powerhouse known for churning out Olympians, Stanford has won an NCAA-leading 11 titles, including five straight from 1992-96. The Cardinal also won three in a row from 2017-19. Recently, Virginia has made a name for itself, winning the last three NCAA titles to start its own swimming dynasty.

Georgia Gymnastics (10 titles)

It’s been awhile since Georgia has topped the gymnastics world, but once upon a time the Bulldogs did just that, rattling off five straight gymnastics titles from 2005-09 and claiming an NCAA-leading 10th title in 2009. Oklahoma has started to creep up on the Georgia dynasty, winning six titles in the last 10 years, including the last two titles.

UNC Field Hockey (10 titles)

When talking about dynasties, UNC field hockey has to be counted among the best. The Tar Heels have won four of the last five national titles to reach 10 total, the most in NCAA history (Maryland has the second-most with eight). Their 10th title capped off an undefeated season, and the Tar Heels also went undefeated in 2018 and 2019 en route to their first national titles since 2009.

Northwestern Lacrosse (8 titles)

The other major player in lacrosse, Northwestern returned to dominant form this season, rattling off 21 consecutive wins to take its eighth national title under Kelly Amonte Hiller and its first since 2012. Bolstered by Tewaaraton Award winner Izzy Scane, the Wildcats dominated in the title game. They won 18-6 over Boston College, which had made six straight appearances in the national championship game. Amonte Hiller’s eight national championships as a head coach are tied for the most ever in NCAA women’s lacrosse.

Tennessee Basketball (8 titles)

For close to four decades, Pat Summitt led a dominant Lady Vols team that won eight national titles. The legendary coach herself held an 84.2% winning percentage. The only team to have appeared in all 36 NCAA tournaments, Tennessee also has made 34 Sweet 16s, including their most recent in 2023. Their last title came in 2008, although coach Kellie Harper has started to build the program back to its former glory.

Chelsea Gray Returns From Injury in Aces Win Over Seattle

las vegas aces chelsea gray and kelsey plum celebrate a win over the seattle storm
Gray has been sidelined with a foot injury since the 2023 WNBA Finals. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Chelsea Gray made her return to the basketball court on Wednesday, helping the Aces to a 94-83 win over the Seattle Storm. 

The lauded point guard missed the first 12 games of the season, having been injured in last year’s WNBA Finals. The left foot injury caused her to miss Game 4 of the championship series, and she’s continued to rehab it through the beginning of the 2024 season. 

Her return on Wednesday was capitalized by the fact that she needed just 20 seconds to make an impact and record her first assist. While she finished with just one point, she had seven assists, four rebounds, and two blocks to go alongside it in 15:30 minutes. Gray's contributions on the night brought her career assist record up to 1,500.

"I probably went through every emotion leading up to today," Gray said after the game. "I was a little anxious all day. It's been a long time since I've been out on that court. But the fans were amazing from the time I came out to warm up to the time I checked in the game. It was a rush and a feeling I missed a lot."

It’s been a roller coaster of a season so far for Las Vegas, who have lost five of their last seven games. Gray, who averaged 15.3 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.0 rebounds in 2023, has proven herself a much-needed addition to the team’s lineup.

"Felt like my heart," Aces coach Becky Hammon said when asked how she felt hearing the crowd erupt for Gray's return. "She's the leader of our team. I thought she did a wonderful job too."

Cameron Brink Suffers Season-Ending ACL Tear

la sparks rookie cameron brink being helped off the court after an injury
Brink had to be helped off the court after taking a fall during the Sparks' loss to Connecticut on Tuesday. (M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Sparks rookie Cameron Brink will miss the remainder of the WNBA season after suffering a torn ACL in her left knee during Tuesday’s game against Connecticut. 

Brink will also miss the Paris Olympics after having been named to the USA Basketball's 3×3 Olympic roster earlier this month. 

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft, Brink started in all 15 games for the Sparks this season. She entered Tuesday averaging 8.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks, while her blocks ranked her third in the league behind Seattle's Ezi Magbegor and Las Vegas's A’ja Wilson.

During Tuesday’s game, Brink appeared to slip on the hardwood while driving to the basket. After standing up with assistance, she then had to be helped off the court before being carried back to the locker room

"You never think it will happen to you," Brink wrote in an Instagram post on Wednesday. "And despite all the hard work sometimes it does. This is hard to fathom but I know it will only make me stronger. I will not be derailed and I will continue to love this life — I'm not defined by basketball, but it is something that I love deeply and I will work everyday to get back to it. It's not goodbye basketball it's just a see you later. I'm always so thankful for your thoughts and prayers."

In a statement, USA Basketball wished Brink a "speedy recovery" and noted that they will be looking for someone to fill her spot on the 3×3 team. Brink's 3×3 teammate Rhyne Howard also took a knock on Wednesday, although the severity of that injury has yet to be announced. 

After the confirmation, Brink's fellow rookies took to social media to offer up words of support, with Angel Reese writing “\"prayers for my sweet girl!" Aaliyah Edwards also sent prayers, as well as "positive thoughts your way, Cam."

"It just breaks your heart," Caitlin Clark told reporters Wednesday.

"You don’t want to see anybody deal with any sort of injury, obviously an injury of that magnitude," she continued. "I know she’s the type of person that will be able to get through it and come through it stronger."

Veteran Swimmer Simone Manuel Makes 3rd Olympic Team

us olympic swimming team's simone manuel rests in a pool
Simone Manuel returns to the US Olympic Swimming Team after battling health concerns ahead of the Tokyo Games. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Decorated swimmer Simone Manuel made her third US Olympic team on Wednesday, touching fourth in the 100-meter freestyle to secure a spot in the relay event in front of a record crowd inside Lucas Oil Stadium.

With her gold medal win at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, Manuel became the first Black woman to win gold in an individual Olympic swimming event. But the former champion in the 100-meter freestyle endured a long road after being diagnosed with overtraining syndrome ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

"I think Paris is going to be a blast," Manuel said after qualifying. "It's a different spot than I'm used to right now with only being a relay swimmer. But it's my third Olympic team, and that's something that's really hard to accomplish.

"It's a miracle that I'm even able to stand up here and be able to race again. The people close to me know the journey it took to get here. I'm really proud of myself and proud of Team USA."

Kate Douglass and Torri Huske will advance as the two individual swimmers in the event. They'll be joined by Gretchen Walsh and Manuel. 

Elsewhere, Katie Ledecky added to her long list of accolades by winning the 1500-meter freestyle in a time that she wasn’t entirely happy with — despite finishing well ahead of the rest of the heat.

"I was expecting to go a lot faster," she said afterwards. "I know I have a lot more in me than the end result today. I just didn't have that next gear."

One day prior, Regan Smith reclaimed the World Record in the 100-meter backstroke with a time of record time of 57.33 seconds. Smith had previously set the record in 2019, before Australia’s Kaylee McKeown broke it soon after. The feat marked the second World Record broken at the US Olympic Swimming Trials.

"There were many years that went by after 2019 where I thought that I would never do that ever again," Smith said Tuesday, before adding that she’d love to set a new record in Paris. "I think 56 is a possibility, for sure."

Midge Purce-Backed Docuseries ‘The Offseason’ to Drop This Summer

cast of the offseason nwsl reality series
'The Offseason' follows a group of NWSL stars as they prepare for preseason play. (The Offseason)

The Offseason, a reality series created by Gotham and USWNT star Midge Purce, has officially confirmed its streaming debut, Purce announced in Cannes on Tuesday.

The six-episode, half-hour docuseries will stream this summer on X, though a specific premiere date hasn't yet been set.

The Offseason was filmed in Miami, two weeks before the NWSL preseason. It's a crucial time for athletes, a period where they prepare to join their respective teams and compete for both starting and roster spots. Production designed all the facilities, bringing in top-tier trainers, masseuses, chefs, and gym equipment to create a high-level training environment, ensuring the players were in peak condition, per the show's release. Throughout filming, athletes lived together in one house — a reality TV conceit rife for entertainment.

The series follows a number of NWSL stars, including Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Maria Sanchez (Houston Dash), Lo’eau LaBonta (Kansas City Current), Michelle Alozie (Houston Dash), Taylor Smith (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Nikki Stanton (OL Reign), Ally Watt (Orlando Pride), Taryn Torres (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Paige Nielsen (Angel City FC), and Ify Onumonu (Utah Royals).

"We wanted to create a series that truly captures the essence of what it means to be a professional athlete," said Purce. "This series has always been about more than just sports — it's about the human experience behind the athlete, as well."

The show promises a behind-the-scenes look at professional women's sports, teasing major life decisions, on-field tensions, and players taking stock of the environments they'll be entering once their preseason trip is over. The series delves into the real-life challenges faced by the athletes, including club trades, contract negotiations, burnout, and the relentless pressure from outsiders commenting on the players' personal lives.

The Offseason's official trailer, released on Tuesday, shows snippets of Hubly contemplating retirement, Sanchez joining the group after signing a high-profile contract, and a healthy amount of banter about on-field achievements.

The spirit of the series is reflected in its producers: Box To Box Films is known for their sports content (Drive to Survive, Break Point, Full Swing), whereas 32 Flavors is the creative force behind Vanderpump Rules and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The series was funded by Seven Seven Six, and executive produced by Purce.

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