Oklahoma softball: Do the reigning national champs have an Achilles heel?

Grace Green (21) takes the plate as the Oklahoma Sooners take on the University of Alabama Blazers at Marita Hynes Field in Norman on Saturday, April 2, 2022.Ou Uab 5
Grace Green (21) takes the plate as the Oklahoma Sooners take on the University of Alabama Blazers at Marita Hynes Field in Norman on Saturday, April 2, 2022.Ou Uab 5 /

No team has been more dominant this college softball season — and possibly ever — than Patty Gasso’s top-ranked Oklahoma softball squad.

The No. 1-ranked Sooners are 42-1 with seven games remaining in the regular season and are on pace to have one of the best, if not the best, OU softball seasons of all time. And they’re doing so with not only the most explosive offense in Division I softball, but with a staff pitching performance that is equal to none.

Oklahoma ranks No. 1 nationally this season in nine statistical categories (six in hitting, two in pitching and one as a team). The Sooners’ power-laden lineup leads the country in batting average .377 as a team), home runs (109), home runs per game (2.72), on-base percentage (.486) and slugging percentage (7.80).

Four players in the Sooners’ lineup rank in the top-25 nationally in hitting, all four with a batting average north of .400.

The Sooners aren’t just outscoring their opponents, the OU pitching staff is shutting down their opponents’ offensive opportunities. OU’s opponents have scored just 21 earned runs in 44 games and 36 total. Sooner pitchers boast a remarkable 0.66 earned run average through 44 games, which could be close to setting an all-time record.

Twenty-five of the Sooners 46 wins have come by shutout. OU’s .975 winning percentage is the best in college baseball this season. The pitching staff has combined for six no-hitters, including two perfect games. Hard to lose when the opponents are averaging under a run a game.

So, with all this firepower, at the plate and on the mound, could this be the best Oklahoma softball team of all-time? The Sooners are clearly making a case for it, but it is difficult to compare teams over different eras and with different defining characteristics. Winning a national championship is one objective measure, but so is overall win percentage, as well as a top ranking in major national statistical categories.

If the Sooners can complete the season the way they’ve started it, they will complete the campaign with a back-to-back national championship run for the second time in the past seven seasons. During that time, Oklahoma will have won five national titles, the third most all-time.

Patty Gasso’s OU squad has outscored its opponents 402-36 this season. If that isn’t complete dominance, I don’t know what is.

It’s hard to pinpoint a weakness anywhere on this Sooner team, which is exactly what makes them so dangerous. If there is one, however, it would probably be defensively, which is really splitting hairs because a year ago, Oklahoma led the country in fielding percentage.

With practically the entire 2021 starting lineup back again this season, it’s a bit surprising to see the Sooners struggle at times in the field this season. In leading Division I softball last season with a .985 fielding percentage, OU committed just 25 errors in 60 games.

The Sooners have already committed 27 errors this season in 43 games and rank 34th nationally in the latest NCAA Division I stats with a .971 fielding percentage.

It may appear that we’re nitpicking here, because I know some 290 other Division I softball schools, including 24 of the top 25, that would love to have the problems Oklahoma has.

The point being, this could be the most talented and strongest Oklahoma softball team in school history, if not in NCAA history. It’s still too early in the 2022 season to make that claim, but if the Sooners continue to perform the way they have to this point, especially when the competition gets tougher in the postseason, they clearly will go down as one of the greatest of all-time.