May 26—Following Oklahoma's 20-0 win over Texas A&M last Sunday in the NCAA regional finals, Aggies coach Joe Evans was the first person to appear for postgame media availability.
Evans gave a long list of reasons for why the Sooners were able to dominate the game from the first pitch. She also explained why Sunday's game was so different from the matchup the day before, when the Sooners squeaked out a 3-2 win.
"What makes them so good is their ability to make adjustments from one game to the next," Evans said. "And they did a good job with that."
That Sunday game, and the adjustments that led up to it, were important for the Sooners for a lot of reasons.
The Sooners' 20-run win marked the largest margin of victory in postseason history, and OU coach Patty Gasso called it one of the most complete games her team has played this season. It was also important, Gasso said, because it came directly after a close game against the Aggies.
The team emphasizes being able to treat each game separately and adjust from one game to the next. And with a veteran team like the Sooners have, Gasso doesn't have to say much.
"I've got a pretty mature team, and they've all been around for a couple of years," Gasso said. "So I don't need to say too much, but we certainly do touch on it."
It's those kinds of experiences with two different outcomes against the same team that can only benefit the Sooners as the postseason continues, Gasso said.
"I would say absolutely yes, [it helps]," Gasso said. "The 3-2 game was a close game and we were fighting and [it was] kind of a nail biter. We got out of it. Then we come back the next day and what we did created so much momentum and you just felt every player in the dugout [was] like, 'I'm not making the last out. I did my thing. Your turn.' Nobody wanted to be that person."
For OU sophomore Tiare Jennings, that second game stands out among the 54 games the team has played so far.
"We can take our energy and our approach from the last Texas a&m game and kind of carry it on the rest of postseason," Jennings said. "Because that was something that I haven't felt before with this team. I think that we're starting to reach our peak... We'll keep [that second Texas A&M game] in the back of our mind just [because of] how we felt as a team overall."
The Sooners will hope to carry that momentum into one of the most important weekends of the year. The only thing standing between the Sooners and a return to the Women's College World Series is a matchup with the University of Central Florida in the super regionals.
The stats don't jump off the page for UCF, which ranks 22nd nationally in earned run average (2.19), 33rd in runs per game (5.79) and 15th in on-base percentage (.401). But they've been one of the more consistent teams in the country, and the Knights (49-12) defeated No. 24-ranked Michigan twice to win the NCAA Orlando Regional last weekend.
Gasso is adamant that the Sooners aren't looking past UCF.
"They've got speed, they've got power," Gasso said. "They're very aggressive on the base. Our defense has to be really good. Your pitching has to keep them off balance. You're gonna have to do things really well in order to contain them and you just can't get fooled by the name. Everybody's used to the UCLAs and the Arizonas and Alabamas. You look at the landscape of softball at this moment right now [with] Florida State, Alabama — some of those big names you expect to be in it, are not.
"UCF is a big reason why the landscape is changing, and you just can't pretend like they're not a team that doesn't belong because they do. Just because you're not a Power 5 [school] doesn't mean you can't win a national championship. And they've got an underdog approach and we understand that, and whatever comes out of this, I know that they're gonna make us better. We're gonna have to play really well."
Jesse Crittenden is the sports editor of The Transcript and covers OU athletics. Reach him at email@example.com or at 405-366-3580