Oklahoma softball: Sooners roll through 2020 opening weekend

A year ago Patty Gasso’s Oklahoma softball team opened up the season with eight straight wins, won 10 of its first dozen games and then embarked on an NCAA record 41-game winning streak before losing a game in the NCAA Norman Regional.

The Sooners are off and running again, sweeping four season-opening games in the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge. With several new faces providing the offensive spark, Oklahoma served notice that the 2020 season is going to be a reload and not a rebuild after losing four key position starters and a starting pitcher with a 51-2 career record off of last season’s Women’s College World Series runners-up.

Oklahoma posted weekend victories over Nevada, Long Beach State, George Washington and BYU, outscoring their four opponents by a combined score of 27-9. The Sooners also doubled it up in the hit column, pounding out 35 hits in the four games to 17 for their opponents.

Among the Oklahoma newcomers who shined in their collegiate debut were true freshmen Rylie Boone and Kinzie Hansen.

Boone, an outfielder from Tulsa, Oklahoma, had seven hits in the four games, drove in two and scored five times. Hansen, who appears to be the replacement for the departed Shay Knighton, and herself a fellow Californian like Knighton, collected eight hits in OU’s four wins and drove in another eight.

Redshirt freshman Brooke Vestal started two games, but did not get a decision, and true freshman Macy McAdoo came on in relief in three of the four games and was the winning pitcher in OU’s 10-3 win on Friday over Long Beach State.

Junior outfielder Jocelyn Alo, who has hit 46 home runs in her two seasons at Oklahoma, slugged the Sooners first one of the 2020 season, a three-run shot against Long Beach State. Junior catcehr Lynnsie Elam hit a solo home run in OU’s 5-2 win over George Washington on Saturday.

The closest game of the weekend was Oklahoma’s 3-1 win over BYU. Senior right-hander Shannon Saile started the game and went the first five innings, giving up just one hit and striking out nine batters. Giselle “G” Juarez finished up the game in relief of Saile, allowing no hits in two innings and recording three strikeouts of her own, and was credited with the win.

Saile saw action in all four games for the Sooners. She was the winning pitcher in the season- 9-3 win against Nevada, and she earned saves in the wins over Long Beach State and George Washington.

The next action for USA Softball/ESPN’s third-ranked Sooners is the Hillenbrand Invitational in Tucson, Arizona, where Oklahoma will face four schools in three days beginning Friday. Also participating in that tournament are Bryant, Northern Iowa, Long Beach and fifth-ranked Arizona.