It has been 61 days, two full months since the last time Oklahoma softball has tasted defeat. Last time? More appropriate for this season would be only time so far.
It was the second weekend of the season at the Waco Tournament on the final day when host Baylor got the best of OU, 4-3.
Nobody saw it coming. Head coach Patty Gasso said the key would be the team’s response. She couldn’t have asked for anything better.
No. 1 OU is now 39-1 overall, 9-0 in the Big 12 and returns to Waco this weekend on a 31-game winning streak.
“The goal is not to go undefeated. That’s almost unheard of for a team to do that in this day and age. It’s not our goal,” Gasso said. “Our goal is if we are going to lose a game is to learn from it. We did. We showed that. Now I know they don’t want to feel that again. That’s part of the motivation is not feeling that again.
“There is just a big pride in this team. They’re very athletic. They know they’re good. I think they love to win. When we practice, we play to win. They’re always hungry for the win. They don’t like the idea of someone coming in and being better than them. It’s very prideful.”
OU’s road to a Big 12 championship is going to be decided here in the next few weekends. Gasso knows that, going to Baylor this weekend and Bedlam at Oklahoma State in two weeks.
The Bears have proven that win was no fluke. Now ranked No. 16 in the country, the Bears recently won two games at No. 4 Tennessee and are coming off beating Texas Tech two of three games in Lubbock last weekend.
The Bears are no joke, but Gasso is ready to see, again, how different the OU team is in late-April compared to the second week of the season.
“I think we know where we can be better, what to look for, the changes we have to make,” Gasso said. “I’m anxious for this weekend because it’s kind of full circle. They caught us in our second weekend. It’s always exciting to see the growth you’ve made during that time span. I think that’s what this team is anxious to show is that we’re quite a different-looking team from back then. It definitely does help.”
*A tactic just starting to be used this year is teams using different pitchers every game, almost using one pitcher for one inning and trying to keep OU off balance.
It has been effective, but Gasso said the team is now relishing that type of challenge. It wasn’t a problem last weekend at the Miami (Ohio) Tournament, where the OU bats came back alive.
It’s what needed to happen at the event and must continue the rest of the way, no matter how they’re pitched to this weekend.
“It’s almost like please do it. Because we want to show you that it doesn’t trip us up,” Gasso said. “That’s the attitude that they have. And they’re sticking to it. They handled it pretty well out there this weekend. But they’re ready. They’re ready for it. They’re now expecting every team to do that.
“So it’s interesting how the mindset completely shifted to where we’re in here and they’re like, ‘who do you think the pitcher…’ The pitcher with the least amount of innings might start. They’re already getting it all lined up for themselves. I don’t know if it’s even going to be looking like that. But they have prepared for it and that’s the difference.”
*Some numbers during the 31-game winning streak:
Runs: OU 269-26
OU team batting average: .385; Opponents – .155
Most HRs: Jayda Coleman, Haley Lee 11
Best average: Jayda Coleman, .512
Most RBIs: Kinzie Hansen, 38 (who didn’t play in the first BU game)
Nicole May – 10-0, 0.65 ERA, 53.2 IP, 30 H, 5 ER, 16 BB, 75 K.
Jordy Bahl – 9-0, 0.80 ERA, 61 IP, 29 H, 7 ER, 15 BB, 79 K.
Alex Storako – 11-0, 0.83 ERA, 59.1 IP, 28 H, 7 ER, 6 BB, 70 K.