Oklahoma softball: Patty Gasso is best coach in college softball, bar none

Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso is pictured during a softball game between the Oklahoma Sooners and Stanford in the Women's College World Series at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in in Oklahoma City, Monday, June, 5, 2023.
Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso is pictured during a softball game between the Oklahoma Sooners and Stanford in the Women's College World Series at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in in Oklahoma City, Monday, June, 5, 2023. /

The rise of Oklahoma softball to the pantheon of the college sport over the past decade has been perpetuated by an infusion of top talent that continues to pulse through the program like a well-oiled, high-powered machine.

It’s not by chance that Oklahoma has led or been near the very top in nearly every major statistical category the past three seasons and that that dominance has resulted in three consecutive national championship seasons. That’s the way the Sooners have been built.

The architect of this Oklahoma softball dynasty and the culture that nourishes and fuels it is head coach Patty Gasso. Gasso has been at OU for 29 years, but what her Sooner teams have accomplished over the past decade is unprecedented.

Oklahoma has won seven national championships in softball. Five of those championships (2013, 2016, 2017, 2021, 2022 and 2023) have come in the last seven seasons, and in one of those years in which the Sooners did not come out on top (2019), they were the national runner-up.

A little over a week ago, Oklahoma finished off a record-tying third consecutive national title. The Sooners did so in grand style, winning 61 of 62 games, including 53 in a row to end the season. Both are NCAA records — one for winning percentage and the other for consecutive wins — and the win streak continues into the 2024 season.

During OU’s national championship trifecta of the past three seasons, Gasso’s crew has won 176 games and lost just eight times. By comparison, UCLA, the only other Division I team to win three consecutive national titles (1988-90) did so while compiling a combined record of 163-19.

There is no question that Patty Gasso is the best active head coach in college softball. Heck — with apologies to Nick Saban — she may be the best head coach in all of sport based on her incredible record over the past 29 years, but particularly in the past decade.

Her 1,456 wins aren’t the most in college softball history — she stands fourth on the career list — but her .808 winning percentage is the best all-time. Gasso is No. 1 in wins and percentage, however, among active coaches in the sport.

Gasso began her OU coaching career in 1995, the last season of the Big Eight Conference, coming to Norman after four seasons heading the program at Long Beach City College in California, her home state. Every season she has been at Oklahoma, the Sooners have been a participant in the NCAA Tournament. Over that 29-year span OU softball has won 15 Big 12 regular-season championships and one Big Eight championship. Her teams have been NCAA regional champions 21 times and Super Regional Champions 16 times.

“I love to compete,” Gasso told reporters after OU’s sweep of Florida State in the WCWS championship series last week. “I love it when it’s hard.” Her team reflects that spirit and attitude, and that’s why Oklahoma has been so successful for so long under Gasso’s leadership and direction.

The longtime Sooner head coach acknowledged that the 2023 season probably has been the most difficult in her career, but at the same time the most rewarding. Every time Oklahoma takes the field, the Sooners do so knowing they have a giant target on their back and are going to get every team’s best shot. That’s what makes winning 61 of 62 games so remarkable. Certainly there was some adversity along the way, but the Sooners were able to come through it and find a way to win, every time but one.

"“I need a thesaurus to find more superlatives to describe her,” athletic director Joe Castiglione said about his veteran softball coach after winning the team’s seventh national championship and third in a row.“Even though there are players who carry over from one year to another, they’re all individual, different teams. To be able to make runs and do things you didn’t think were possible — you just really have to appreciate this moment."

“This is so hard to make happen.”

This indeed has been an incredible run by Oklahoma softball and serves to further burnish the sustained success and greatness that Patty Gasso has brought to the program and to the sport of college softball