Oklahoma softball still best in the sport; now begins a new chapter


When you don't lose a game in over a year -- or to put it another way, you win 71 consecutive games in any sport, as the Oklahoma softball team just accomplished -- it's especially tough to accept a loss.

The three-time defending national champion Sooners don't loss very often. In fact, since the beginning of the 2021 season, Oklahoma has lost just eight times in 202 games. For those of you who might be math challenged, that's an unworldly winning percentage of .960.

Oklahoma's NCAA record winning streak came to a sudden end on Sunday in a 7-5 loss to the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns. The unfortunate thing is, the Sooners have no one to blame but themselves for this one setback.

"We knew a game like this would be coming at some time. We're going to come back and be stronger. We've shown that, and we're made like that."

Sooner head coach Patty Gasso

Credit Louisiana for bringing the fight to the nation's top-ranked team three-plus years running. The Sooners posted an 8-0 run-rule win over this same Louisiana team 24 hours earlier. Although the final score on Sunday doesn't show it, Oklahoma had opportunities to put the game in the win column but couldn't quite get over the hump.

The Sooners drew within one run on a two-run home run blast by Kinzie Hansen in the fourth. , despite falling into a 3-0 hole early. After the Ragin' Cajuns added a fourth run in the top of the seventh to go up 4-2, OU showed its interminable resilience one more time. pushing across two runs in the bottom of the seventh, tying the game at 4-4 and sending it to extra innings.

Louisiana scored three times in the top of the eighth off of OU relief pitcher Karlie Keeney to take a 7-4 lead. Unlike numerous times before, though, the Sooners weren't able to pull off a miracle ending. Cydney Sanders hit one over the wall with one out in the home half of the eighth to make it 7-5, but that was a close as Oklahoma would get as Louisiana finished off what no other team has been able to do in 378 days. The Sooners committed a high uncharacteristic three errors in the game, which clearly didn't help their cause.

"Nothing was good enough today for us," Gasso told reporters in the postgame press conference. "We had the spirit of coming back, which was great. But from defense, pitching to timely hitting, we wasted a lot of time early in the game. This was a game we didn't deserve to win.

"We are human. We are human beings. That's what happened to us today."

So now it's on to the next game, which will be on Tuesday at Love's Field as OU hosts Texas A&M Commerce, and endeavors to put the loss Sunday behind them and begin a new win streak.

It was inevitable that the win streak would come to an end sometime. It's unfortunate that it happened on the opening weekend of the Sooners new home stadium, Love's Field.

Oklahoma's 71-game win streak is one of those records -- like the Sooners' 47-game streak in football, Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak or Cal Ripken's Iron Man 2,632 straight games -- that should stand the test of time. The fact is, the current record in softball is one of four of the five longest win streaks in NCAA softball, all belonging to the Sooners.

It's easy and expected to feel bad after a loss, particularly when they are so far and few between. But it should also be pointed out that in each of Oklahoma's seven national championship seasons (all since 2000), the Sooners have lost a handful of games. So one or more losses should not diminish what this Oklahoma softball team is more than capable of achieving again this season.

As Patty Gasso said, this team and program are built to do great things. And undoubtably it will again in the 2024 season.