Sooners defeat Texas, completing historic national championship 4-peat for OU senior core group


Three days ago, the three-time defending national champion Oklahoma softball was fighting for its life to stay alive in the Women's College World Series and advance to the championship series to face No. 1 Texas that had cruised to the finals without giving up a single run in three WCWS wins.

On Thursday night, the Sooners finished off a two-game sweep of the Longhorns to win their 59th game of the year and, more importantly, their fourth national championship, a feat that has never been done before in college softball.

The Sooners scored eight runs on nine hits in an 8-3 win over one of the country's best pitching staffs in Game 1 against Texas on Wednesday and improved on that in Game 2, plating eight runs on a dozen hits in a series-clinching 8-4 victory.

It's difficult enough to win a national championship in any sport, let alone win four of them in succession. "Anytime a championship is one, it's historic," OU athletic director Joe Castiglione told reporters after the Sooner women had wrapped up the 2024 national title. "To win four in a row is just incredible."

"It wasn't easy this season," head coach Patty Gasso said in the postgame interview session. "It's probably the hardest coaching season I've had because of a lot of the naysayers. Heavy is the head that wears the crown is the one thing that really stood out. That really has felt true. It's been exhausting.

Just think, OU's core five seniors -- position players Jayda Coleman, Tiare Jennings, Kenzie Hansen, Rylie Boone and pitcher Nicole May -- will have four championship rings and have never ended the season with a loss. In their four seasons in Norman Oklahoma had an unbelievable combined record of 235-15. That's a .940 winning percentage. And the WCWS teams they were on were 21-4.

Make no mistake though, the core seniors were a major part of OU achieving the impossible dream this season, but there were several other departing seniors who also played key roles thoughout this difficult season.

Kelly Maxwell was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2024 WCWS. She was 5-0 in the WCWS, including two incredible performances in winning back-to-back games versus Florida to get to the championship series and Game 1 over Texas while throwing over 266 pitches. Maxwell had four outstanding years at Oklahoma State, but was willing to take on all the criticism to cross over the Bedlam line in hopes of winning a national championship at Oklahoma. Alyssa Brito hit .339 this season with 18 home runs and 61 RBI, and Alynah Torres batted .332 with nine home runs. All three were transfers.

There is no question, however, that the core Sooner seniors will leave an indelible mark and legacy on Oklahoma softball.

"They've cemented this program in history. They've cemented themselves in history. History and change, but these guys will never, ever be forgotten."

Patty Gasso on OU's 5 core seniors

Jennings, one of two captains of this 2024 championship team, leaves as one of the greatest players in college softball history. She is third all-time in home runs with 97 and fourth in career RBI. In her WCWS career, she has 11 home runs and 31 RBI, one behind former teammate Jocelyn Alo in both categories.

Gasso calls Coleman the "program changer." She's the one who generally gets the party started at the top of the lineup besides being an outstanding center fielder.

Hansen is one of the best catchers in college softball, a Johnny Bench Award winner in recognition of her outstanding performance behind the plate. Texas head coach Mike White called her the most dangerous and difficult out in the Oklahoma starting lineup. She has been one of the best clutch performers at OU in her five seasons.

Boone, the player Gasso calls the "coordinator of chaos," has been a fan favorite ever since she stepped foot in Norman, coming across the state from Owasso, a suburb of Tulsa. Boone was a career .400 hitter and batted ninth or near the bottom in the Sooner lineup. An indication of how good the OU lineup has been top to bottom

May never has been the ace of the Oklahoma pitching staff, but she still managed to compile a record of 60-6 over her career with a career ERA of 2.22 in 106 appearances. She easily could have left and become the the No. 1 starter at many programs around the country, but said that never entered he mind. Oklahoma was home, she said, and why would anyone want to leave home.

At the center of all of the Oklahoma softball success, though, and the GOAT in terms of college football coaches is the Sooners' one and only Patty Gasso. The Sooners have never missed a postseason appearance in the 30 years that Gasso has been at the helm of the OU softball program. The Sooners' eighth national championship and sixth in the last eight seasons, all under Gasso, ties them with Arizona for the second most all-time.

And Coach Gasso says she'll be back for another run with an all new group of Sooners in 2025.

About the future of this team, which loses 10 seniors for next season, Gasso said, "I'm really excited. They are, too. This group of seniors really left their mark. That's one thing you want them to do," she said, "is leave the program better than you found it."

No. question they achieved that. The 2024 OU softball team may not be the best Sooner team of all time, but this group of Sooner definitely can lay credit to delivering the greatest four-year period in Oklahoma softball history.