🥎 Sooners return to WCWS
Notes and stories to follow in Oklahoma City as the Sooners chase the program's sixth national championship at the Women's College World Series.
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Top-seeded Oklahoma is back at the Women’s College World Series, one year after claiming the program’s fifth national title.
The chase for No. 6 has looked eerily similar to the one before it.
OU (54-2) has appeared unstoppable on its way to Oklahoma City, running through its regional and Super Regional without a loss. OU hasn’t been without adversity this postseason, nor did it go through the regular season without a few setbacks.
The Sooners dropped games to Texas and Oklahoma State, both of which also made the World Series field. OU coach Patty Gasso seems almost thankful, however, for the challenges presented by the program’s two biggest rivals.
“I think the biggest moments of our season have been our losses,” Gasso said, “and how we've responded to them and what we've learned from them because there are times through the season we've been complacent and still able to win, and we just kept moving along.
“We needed to get poked a few times, and we responded very well. So, I love where we are right now. I feel like we're trending upwards.”
Since losing to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament championship game, OU has outscored its opponents 52-3 over five postseason outings and without its star freshman pitcher Jordy Bahl.
Not that OU ever questioned whether or not Hope Trautwein and Nicole May could carry the load.
Trautwein, the newcomer from North Texas, allowed just three hits and two runs, struck out six and walked three over 13 innings pitched in her first three postseason appearances for the Sooners.
May was lights out at regionals, striking out 13, allowing two hits and no runs over 8 1/3 innings worked. In her lone Super Regional appearance, May pitched a complete game, where she allowed three hits, one run and struck out four to push OU to the World Series.
“Our pitching staff has been just brick wall,” Gasso said. “They've been stellar for this team, and that really I think has set us off to another space.”
The Sooners’ first test of the World Series comes from Northwestern, the Big Ten’s regular-season champion. And while OU has looked dominant through its 2022 campaign, Gasso sees the national title as up for grabs.
“Any team can do this because those teams that got here are still on a crazy roll,” Gasso said. “They haven't been home for weeks, but they don't care because they're in this beautiful bubble right now that they don't want to get burst with.
“It's going to be fun.”
🎥 Watch Patty Gasso, Jocelyn Alo, Grace Lyons and Nicole May preview the Women’s College World Series (youtube.com)
Bahl expected to pitch
The wait for Jordy Bahl’s postseason debut is nearing its end.
“You're going to see her pitch this week,” Gasso confirmed to reporters on Wednesday.
“How much? We're still working.”
Bahl, who was named the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s Freshman of the Year on Tuesday, missed the NCAA Norman Regional and Super Regional with an arm injury.
Prior to the injury, Bahl achieved a 0.95 ERA and 21-1 record in the circle. Bahl, who earned 23 starts, compiled a team-high 199 strikeouts and allowed 63 hits, 23 runs and three home runs over 132 1/3 innings.
While Bahl’s been a dominant force for the Sooners and will get to showcase that on college softball’s biggest stage, it’s still unclear how OU will manage Bahl’s pitches over the next week.
“We're still kind of putting all of that together,” Gasso said, “but we have followed doctor's orders and done everything we're supposed to do, including talking with Jordy, talking with doctors, communicating with her parents to make sure this is the right thing to do and she is not in enough severe pain, that if she was, this wouldn't even be an option. But we have done everything right, and that has allowed her to have this opportunity.”
Fresh faces in OKC
Texas hasn’t made it to the Women’s College World Series since 2013.
Northwestern’s last trip came in 2007, and Oregon State hasn’t been since 2006.
All three will make their return to Oklahoma City this weekend, hoping to extend a wild postseason in college softball.
For the first time since the NCAA implemented the Super Regional round in 2005, three unseeded teams will compete in this year’s College World Series. Texas, Oregon State and Arizona are the lucky trio.
Along with perennial power Arizona, the Oklahoma City Eight includes plenty of familiar programs, including Oklahoma, the winners of last year’s championship series, and UCLA, another softball blue-blood that has made the World Series every year it’s been held since 2015.
Florida, which won national titles in 2014 and ‘15, ended its one-season World Series drought but is the only Southeastern Conference program still alive in the postseason. Oklahoma State also returns to Oklahoma City, having appeared in the previous two events.
Thursday, June 2
Game 1: UCLA vs. Texas, 11 a.m. CT (ESPN)
Game 2: Oklahoma vs. Northwestern, 1:30 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Game 3: Florida vs. Oregon State, 6 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Game 4: Oklahoma State vs. Arizona, 8:30 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Friday, June 3
Game 5: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 6 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
Game 6: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 8:30 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
Saturday, June 4
Game 7: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 2 p.m. CT (ABC)
Game 8: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 6 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday, June 5
Game 9: Game 5 winner vs. Game 8 loser, 2 p.m. CT (ABC)
Game 10: Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 loser, 6 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
Monday, June 6
Game 11: Game 7 winner vs. Game 9 winner, 11 a.m. CT (ESPN)
Game 12 (if necessary): Game 7 winner vs. Game 9 winner, 1:30 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Game 13: Game 8 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 6 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Game 14 (if necessary): Game 8 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 8:30 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Game 1: Wednesday, June 8, 6:30 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Game 2: Thursday, June 9, 6:30 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
Game 3 (if necessary): Friday, June 10, 7:30 p.m. CT (ESPN)