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Oklahoma Softball Snubbed in USA Collegiate Player of the Year Finalists

The Oklahoma Sooners are 51-1 entering the 2023 NCAA Softball Tournament and are the runaway favorite to lift their third consecutive National Championship trophy next month.

After securing the top overall seed for the fourth season in a row, the Sooners had pretty much done everything they could to prove themselves the best team in the country to this point.

Earlier this month, when the USA Collegiate Softball Player of the Year Finalist List was narrowed to 10 names, the Sooners had 30% of the nominees. Jordy Bahl, Jayda Coleman, and Tiare Jennings will be first-team All-Americans later on this year, but none of them will win the Collegiate Player of the Year Award.

 

When USA Softball announced its three finalists for the award on Wednesday, not even one of the three made it. Florida’s Skylar Wallace, UCLA’s Maya Brady, and Clemson’s Valarie Cagle were selected instead, leaving OU on the outside looking in after Jocelyn Alo won each of the last two seasons.

While this is an individual award, doesn’t it feel wrong not to have the best player from the best team in America as a finalist? This is softball’s version of the Heisman trophy after all.

Jayda Coleman, who I would argue is the best player on Oklahoma’s roster right now, ranks ahead of both Cagle and Brady in On-Base Percentage (.561) and not far behind the trio in batting average (.434).

Coleman’s 14 home runs is probably the stat that eliminated her from contention as she lags behind Wallace (19), Brady (18), and Cagle (18) in that category, and everyone loves the long ball.

 

The impact that Coleman, Jennings, and Bahl have had for Oklahoma in 2023 is hard to overstate.

Bahl is 15-1 in the circle this year and leads the Sooners’ staff with 143 strikeouts in 109.1 IP. Her 1.15 ERA ranks third on the team, but ranks 11th nationally and ahead of Valerie Cagle. Bahl also bats .406 and has 11 runs and eight RBIs in just 17 games as a starter in the lineup.

Jayda Coleman (.434) and Tiare Jennings (.429) have combined for 26 home runs, 106 runs, 95 RBIs, and 232 total bases in 2023. The junior duo is the best offensive one-two punch in the country, and have made play after play in clutch situations all season. But it doesn’t stop there. Coleman maintains a 1.000 fielding percentage in centerfield, while Jennings’ .990 at second base ranks among the top at her position nationally.

 

Should they feel snubbed? It’s up for debate, but not having a player from Oklahoma represented in this award feels offputting, considering the Sooners are running laps around the rest of the sport right now.

Despite not being named finalists for the award, the trio would definitely rather have another championship trophy to take home, and that appears to be the message in Norman. After the finalist were named, the Oklahoma Softball account tweeted a photo of each of the three players, with the simple caption, “One goal.”

As if Oklahoma needed any sort of external motivation heading into the weekend, they now have something to prove as some of their best players are probably feeling a bit slighted that not even one of them was named to the finalist list.

The Sooners will continue in their quest to get back to OKC later this week in the Norman Regional, starting with a game against Hofstra on Friday, May 19 at 4:00 (ESPNU).

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