The Oklahoma Sooners softball team is one of six nominees for the Best Team category at the ESPY Awards to be held at 7 p.m. Saturday on ABC.
The Sooners had their backs to the wall twice in the College World Series but came out (pardon the pun) swinging. Oklahoma was the No. 1 seed in the WCWS but lost the tournament’s opening game to the unranked James Madison Dukes. OU then blasted Georgia and No. 2 UCLA to set up a rematch against JMU. The Sooners had to defeat the Dukes twice to reach the WCWS final. Mission accomplished.
No. 10 Florida State also reached the tournament final after losing its opening round. The Seminoles beat the Sooners in Game 1 of the best-of-three final. Oklahoma would have to win the next two games to claim the national championship. Once again, mission accomplished, and OU claimed its fifth national crown, all under the tutelage of head coach Patty Gasso.
Oklahoma finished 56-4 and run-ruled 34 of their opponents along the way. OU hit home runs in 58 games and 161 total breaking Hawaii’s record of 158 set in 2010 in 66 games. The Sooners’ 638 runs broke Arizona’s record of 629 (set in 1995 in 72 games). They also set WCWS records for home runs (15), runs scored (49), and hits (67).
* Baylor’s men’s basketball won its first national championship last March. The Bears were ranked preseason favorites to take the title. The Bears finished 28-2. They reeled off 16 straight victories before losing by 13 points to No. 17 Kansas in Lawrence.
BU won its next four games but stumbled in the Big 12 Conference tournament with a loss to No. 12 Oklahoma State. As the top seed in the NCAA tournament South regional, Baylor breezed through the Big Dance by an average margin of 15 points.
* Alabama’s football team won its sixth national championship under Nick Saban in 2020. The Crimson Tide went 10-0 during the season, defeating their foes by an average of 33 points per game. They beat Florida in the SEC Championship Game and then knocked off Notre Dame by 17 in the playoff semifinals and Ohio State by 28 in the final.
The Tide boasted six first round NFL draftees last April, and five players took home national award hardware.
*Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl last January, giving quarterback Tom Brady his seventh championship. Brady, who won six Lombardi Trophies with New England, signed with the Buccaneers and led them to their second Super Bowl crown in his first season at QB for Tampa Bay. The Bucs finished second in the NFC’s south division. They beat Washington in the Wild Card round, took down south division Saints in the Divisional playoff round.
Tampa Bay beat the Packers in the NFC Championship and hammered defending Super Bowl champs Kansas City 31-9 in Super Bowl 55.
*Stanford women’s basketball squad began the season ranked second and rolled up 11 straight wins to start the season, but stumbled in losses to unranked Colorado and No. 6 UCLA. The Cardinal ran the table in their next 20 games to the NCAA title. They won their Final Four contests by one point each. Stanford won the championship despite not having a first or second-team All-Americans.
*Seattle Storm, women’s pro basketball. As the No. 2 seed, the Storm (18-4) swept its two playoff opponents to claim their fourth WNBA title. They took down Minnesota in the semifinals and No. 1 Las Vegas in the final. All-star Breanna Stewart paced the Storm with 37, 22, and 26 points, respectively, in the championship round and was named MVP of the playoffs.
*Los Angeles Dodgers baseball staked claim to their first World Series pennant in 32 years by defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in six games of the Series. LA had a season-best record of 43-17 in a Covid-shortened season like most sports teams in 2020. The Dodgers swept Milwaukee in two games in the Wild Card round of the playoffs and won all three games of the Divisional Series over San Diego.
The Atlanta Braves took the Dodgers to the full seven games in the National League Championship Series. Trailing 3-1 in the NLCS, LA won three straight games to reach the Series. After LA and the Rays tied 2-2 in the Series, the Dodgers took the last two games for the pennant.