Despite a rare loss, Oklahoma softball as dominant and hungry as ever


Midway through the 2024 season, Oklahoma softball is 31-1 and perched atop the college softball world as the Sooners have been for the past three seasons.

After the three-time defending national champions suffered a surprising loss -- at home, no less -- to a 21-13 Louisiana team, the immediate reaction in popular media and throughout social media was is this 2024 edition of OU softball really as good as everyone thought they would be, or are they more vulnerable than anytime in the recent past?

The short answer is: They are as dangerous as ever, again loaded offensively up and down the lineup, with a pitching staff steeped in shutdown starters that continues to be one of the best in the country and a team that is as good it comes defensively and does not beat itself with costly errors.

And if that's not enough to convince you, then consider the following compelling evidence:

  • Since a 7-5 loss to the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns at home on March 3, Patty Gasso's crew is 13-0 (9-0 in the Big 12). Within that stretch, the Sooners have recorded eight run-rule wins, four shutouts and five wins giving up just one run.
  • Oklahoma entered this week leading all of NCAA Division I softball in batting average (.394 as a team with seven Sooners hitting .400 or better), on-base-plus-slugging percentage ( 1.226) and on-base percentage (.493), is in the top-three nationally in slugging percentage (2nd, .733), home runs (2nd, 68), runs per game (2nd, 9.12), shutouts (2nd, 15), third in fielding percentage (.933) and ranks fifth in the country in earned run average (1.39).
  • Veteran starting pitchers Kelly Maxwell and Nicole May rank second and fifth in the conference with 10 and nine wins, respectively, both without a loss this season.

Because of its history and tradition, Oklahoma will always get everybody's best shot on the softball diamond, which makes even more incredible to believe that the Sooners were able to string together 71 consecutive wins stretching between the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

You be the judge whether the 2024 defending champions (both nationally and in the Big 12) are any less dangerous or hungry this year than last, or the year before that, or the year before that.

Upcoming games

The Sooners begin a seven-game road trip today that will tell us a lot about what this OU team is made of this season. Oklahoma is at Kansas, perhaps the most surprising team in the Big 12 so far this season, for a Thursday-Friday-Saturday series. Then, next weekend Oklahoma will be in Austin, Texas, for a huge three-game series against the No. 2-ranked Texas for what will probably be the biggest challenge the Sooners will face this season.

Looking ahead to the series with Kansas, the Jayhawks are 22-8 overall and 7-2 and tied for third place in the Big 12 standings. Kansas has won 19 of their last 22 games including three-game sweeps over then No. 13 Baylor and Houston. The Jayhawks broke into the top 25 of the Softball poll this week for the first time this season, at No. 24.

The Sooners have won 19 consecutive games against Kansas and lead the all-time series with the Jayhawks 78-44. OU is 26-12 against Kansas in Lawrence.

Oklahoma leads the Big 12 in hitting (.394 team average), while the Jayhawks, by contrast, rank at the bottom of the league with a batting average 106 points lower (.278). The Sooner pitching staff is second in the conference with a collective 1.39 ERA. The Kansas pitchers have the fourth-best ERA in the Big 12 at 2.22.

The Sooners enter the series with Kansas having won 100 of the last 102 games against Big 12 opponents and 56 consecutive Big 12 series.