Oklahoma softball: Stumble in Big 12 Tournament slight hiccup in championship journey

The Oklahoma Sooners celebrate after Jocelyn Alo (78) hits a home run as they face the Oklahoma State Cowgirls in the Big 12 Softball Championship at USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex in Oklahoma City on Saturday, May 14, 2022.Osu Ou 12
The Oklahoma Sooners celebrate after Jocelyn Alo (78) hits a home run as they face the Oklahoma State Cowgirls in the Big 12 Softball Championship at USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex in Oklahoma City on Saturday, May 14, 2022.Osu Ou 12 /

Oklahoma softball was not the best team in the Big 12 Softball Championship. But make no mistake, the Sooners are the best team in the big 12 and in college softball this season.

The NCAA Women’s Softball Championship selection committee recognizes that as well, awarding the Sooners the No. 1 overall seed. Oklahoma enters the postseason with a 49-2 record, suffering their second loss this past weekend to Oklahoma State in the championship game of the Big 12 Tournament, ending a three-year Sooner reign.

Oklahoma was, however, the Big 12 regular-season champion, defending its title for the ninth consecutive season and 14th time overall.

Perhaps OU and OSU will meet again this season in the Women’s College World Series in what could be another epic showdown. That’s a very real possibility, given the Cowgirls’ status as the No. 7 national seed. I know Oklahoma would welcome that challenge. Why wouldn’t they with a 29-2 record against Oklahoma State in the last 31 meetings.

If you ask me, that should help put things in perspective for those fans who are suddenly of the mindset that the Sooners aren’t as good as everyone seems to think they are, especially going up against good teams. Perhaps the best measure of that is how OU has performed against ranked teams this season.


The Sooners have played six different teams that were ranked at the time the game was played this season. In 10 games against those six teams, OU’s only loss was the 4-3 Oklahoma State win in the Big 12 Tournament last weekend.

The Oklahoma offense, which leads NCAA Division I softball in most every major offensive category, is not going to have many off days when they aren’t able to get runners on base and score them. So, if teams are going to beat the Sooners, they are going to have to outscore them, which this season has been an extreme rarity.

Strong pitching, combined with a good-hands, athletic defense, obviously, is the best way to counter a potent offensive attack, and that’s exactly the formula Oklahoma State employed in handing Oklahoma its second loss of the season in the Saturday’s Big 12 Championship game.

What makes OU such a dangerous team and a unanimous No. 1 for a couple of years running now is because of the multiple ways the Sooners can beat you. Generally, it is because of a lineup that, top to bottom, is easily the best college softball has seen in a number of seasons — and perhaps ever.

The Sooners have outscored their opponents 463-45 this season, including 29 shutouts in 51 games. Four Oklahoma starters are hitting above .400, and seven of the top-10 hitters in the Big 12, based on batting average, are from OU. Led by reigning national Player of the Year and NCAA career home-run leader Jocelyn Alo, The Sooners lead Division I softball with 125 home runs. Alo (25) and sophomore Tiare Jennings (22) are ranked in the top-five nationally in that department.

OU’s ability to score runs in bunches is further demonstrated by the fact that 35 of the 49 wins have been decided by run rule (a lead of eight or more runs after five complete innings) in fewer than seven innings.

It’s not just Oklahoma’s power-packed offense, though, that makes them such a dominant force this season. The Sooners also are blessed with arguably the best pitching staff in college softball. The best college teams have at least one starting pitcher they can count on virtually every outing to get the job done. Oklahoma has three of them.

The Sooners lead the nation with a staff ERA of 0.81. Three Oklahoma pitchers rank — Hope Trautwein (0.31), Jordy Bahl (0.95) and Nicole May (1.11) — in the top-eight nationally in ERA. O some concern, however, is the availability of Bahl in the postseason. The true freshman has been exceptional this season and should earn Freshman of the Year honors, but she is currently nursing arm soreness. The Sooners are hopeful she will be available and healthy for what should be a deep postseason run.

The postseason is a brand new season. Other than the seedings, the slate is wiped clean and what you’ve done to that point is of little meaning. It’s all about winning and advancing.

Oklahoma is hosting a regional for the 11th straight season and enters the postseason as a national seed (1 through 16) for the 15th straight year, including each of the last three seasons as the No. 1 overall seed.

The Sooners are also the reigning national champs and are looking to capture the national championship trophy for the fourth time in the last six years the Women’s College World Series has been played.

The championship journey gets underway for the Sooners on Friday, when they will face Prairie View A&M (20-27, 16-8 SWAC) at 6:30 p.m. at Marita Hynes Field.