Oklahoma swept their in-state rivals Oklahoma State to finish out the regular season, winning 7-1, 6-0, and 5-3. With the series win, the Sooners finish the year with a 48-1 (17-1) record and atop the Big 12, and national standings.
The Sooners secured the first seed in the Big 12 Championship Tournament next week and will play the winner of Baylor and Iowa State, who will play in the four-seed vs. five-seed game on Thursday.
Kenny Gajewski’s squad finishes the season at 38-12 (14-4) and will face seven-seeded Kansas next Thursday.
With the Big 12 regular-season set to wrap up on Sunday, here are three thoughts on what was the biggest series of the season.
Oklahoma State Didn’t Go Down Without a Fight
While the Cowgirls had a hard time hanging with the Sooners in Games 1 and 2, they made things much more difficult on Patty Gasso’s group in Game 3. In the second inning, Oklahoma State’s Haley Busby cranked a two-shot bomb to give OSU a 2-0 lead. The score remained the same until Oklahoma shortstop Grace Lyons brought in Tiare Jennings on an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Sooners didn’t grab the lead until the fifth inning when Jocelyn Alo hit her 112th career home run with the bases loaded, making it 5-2. The Sooners hung on, winning 5-3, and completed the sweep.
Kelly Maxwell and Morgan Day held Oklahoma scoreless in 12 of 21 innings played this weekend, but when given the chance, the Sooners made them pay. In fact, the Sooners actually scored 13 of their 18 runs in just three innings on the weekend. In Game 1, a four-run inning in the third game the Sooners what they needed and it all started with a rare defensive miscue by the Cowgirls. In Game 2, Alyssa Brito hit an RBI single before Jana Johns was walked with the bases loaded, earning another run. Then, Kenzie Hansen cleared the bases on a 3 RBI double, and just like that, it was 5-0 Sooners and they went on to win the game 6-0.
When you have a team as good as Oklahoma, you can’t give them any free chances, and OSU had to learn that lesson the hard way this weekend.
Both of These Teams Will Be in OKC come June
As I said at the beginning of the year, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are both capable of making the Women’s College World Series in June, and I am reiterating that point with just a couple of weeks until then.
Oklahoma State missed Miranda Elish in this series, and she should return for the Cowgirls before the postseason tournament. Adding her back to the rotation in the circle gives OSU one of the best staffs in America. Getting her back in the circle will be huge and will be another dangerous arm to get them through the tournament.
The only concern I have with Oklahoma State is that their bats tend to go cold at times, but if they can find some confidence at the plate in regionals, watch out for the Pokes.
As for Oklahoma, it’s nearly impossible to imagine a WCWS without Gasso’s squad after the year they’ve had. They have won games with offense, defense, pitching gems, and plenty of them with a combination of the three. The Sooners have three players among the 10 finalists for USA Softball National Player of the Year, and they all had a major part in this week’s games. Don’t overthink this one, Oklahoma will be in OKC come June 2.
A Decade of Dominance Continues
Oklahoma won their 10th-straight Big 12 regular-season title on Friday, and I’m afraid that some of us have overlooked just how impressive that is. To put things in perspective, the Sooners are 75-2 in their last 77 Big 12 games and haven’t lost a Big 12 series since 2011 against Missouri.
Patty Gasso has cemented herself as the best coach in Big 12 softball history already, but the 2022 team could be the best she’s ever had. If this team can take home the title this season, it will be Oklahoma’s fifth title in the last 10 years. For perspective, Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide have won four national titles in the last decade, and they are widely viewed as the greatest football dynasty ever.
As for the Big 12 Tournament, the Sooners have won the last three dating back to 2017, with the 2019 season being canceled due to poor playing conditions and 2020 due to COVID-19. OU will have a chance to make it four in a row next week, and should do just that if things go to plan.
The Big 12 runs through Norman, and it looks like a move to the SEC is the only thing that will change that.