OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s historic run through the softball season culminated with a 3-1 win over Florida State and a third straight national championship Thursday night.
But looking back on all seven titles, Sooners coach Patty Gasso said this one was the most challenging.
“I think this really was the roughest one I’ve ever had to go through, just because of with lots of fans and the growth of the sport comes a lot of pressure,” she said. “I think I’ve felt that, and they have felt that.”
Hardly a week has gone by the last two months where Gasso and her team haven’t been reminded of the win streak they were on. In beating FSU, they stretched the NCAA record to 53 victories and counting.
Oklahoma became the first team to win back-to-back-to-back titles since UCLA in 1990.
Its .984 winning percentage (61-1) is the best in Division I history.
After falling behind 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, Oklahoma’s prolific offense answered with back-to-back home runs from Cydney Sanders and Grace Lyons off ACC pitcher of the year Kathryn Sandercock to start the fifth.
It was the first multiple home run game allowed by Sandercock since Feb. 19.
Oklahoma All-American pitcher Jordy Bahl then came out of the bullpen in relief of Alex Storako, who gave up one earned run and three hits in four innings, improving to 26-8.
Bahl pitched three scoreless innings, securing her second save of the season and the Sooners’ sixth championship in the last 10 years.
Only UCLA (12) and Arizona (8) have more championships.
“I’m really just proud of this team for how we have stuck together this year,” Bahl said. “I think not a lot of other people would fully understand what it’s like to go through just the day-to-day from off-season during the summer to August, everything up until now.”
Bahl, who is one of five first-team All-Americans on Oklahoma, scored two runs as a pinch-runner during the Women’s College World Series.
She also threw 24 ⅔ consecutive scoreless innings during the WCWS, which is the third-most all time behind Oklahoma State’s Amy Day (27 ⅔ in 1994) and UCLA’s Lisa Fernandez (26 in 1992).
“Jordy Bahl is just an absolute complete athlete,” Gasso said.
Gasso said they faced challenging offenses during the NCAA tournament but added that challenges are what Bahl thrives on.
It’s to the point that Gasso will give Bahl situations in practice like bases loaded and no outs, just to get her competitive juices going.
“When she’s here, this is her playground,” Gasso said. “This is her heaven right here, at the World Series, where it’s real and it’s someone else that we’re competing against.”
The last time the Sooners lost was 109 days ago on Feb. 19. During their 53-game winning streak, they rattled off 23 wins against ranked opponents and posted an overall run differential of +371.
They set a program record with 35 shutouts this season, and never trailed by more than three runs at any point.
Oklahoma stated its case as the most complete team of all time, leading the country in fielding percentage, batting average, home runs and earned run average.
Four batters hit over .400. Three pitchers had an ERA of less than 1.00.
Oklahoma and Gasso, who is responsible for all seven championships, will look to win four straight next year. But they will have to do so without redshirt seniors Storako, Lyons and Haley Lee.
The Sooners return All-Americans, however, in Bahl, center fielder Jayda Coleman, second baseman Tiara Jennings, third baseman Alyssa Brito and catcher Kinzie Hansen.
“I don’t even want to think about it right now ’cause the grind will start again,” Gasso joked.
Florida State, which won the ACC, finished the season with 58 wins — the most since the 2018 season when the Seminoles won the WCWS.
“We gave our best, but they’re really good,” FSU coach Lonni Alameda said. “Oklahoma does a really good job. They do a good job in all cylinders from recruiting to developing to meeting the NIL, development of program and team. It’s really an honor to compete against the highest level. We talked about that today.
“It can be frustrating at times or it can raise our game. It’s raising our game. It’s making me a better coach. It was just really cool. Hats off to them.”
Oklahoma tops Florida State for third straight NCAA softball title