'Overworked': How Oklahoma aims to use Georgia loss as lesson for rest of season

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Joe Buettner, The Norman Transcript, Okla.
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Apr. 26—Midway between Atlanta and Athens, Georgia, Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso and her team visited an indoor facility for a late-evening batting practice.

A long day didn't deter OU from the 9 p.m. workout, which didn't take more than an hour before they gathered their belongings and made it to their hotel before playing Southeastern Conference foe Georgia the next day.

Perhaps it was too much, even for college softball's top-ranked team, to handle.

A week later, OU visits Baylor for a Tuesday afternoon doubleheader in Waco, Texas. The Sooners will be roughly 48 hours removed from sweeping Texas Tech and one night's sleep since traveling south down Interstate-35 via bus for a series that was rescheduled at the last minute due to the Bears' recent COVID-19 issues.

It's an identical turnaround to what OU faced last week when it finished its sweep of a top-10 Texas team at home on April 18, flew to Athens the next day and played the Bulldogs twice the day after that.

Call it a recipe for a trap game, yet it might be unfair to Georgia, which ranked No. 21 in last week's USA Today/NFCA coaches poll.

Amid Gasso's 27th season as the Sooners' head coach, she's still learning and not bothered to admit it.

"We might have overworked them a little bit," Gasso said. "When we were on our way to [Athens], we stopped halfway and we went to a cages and we hit we got in late. They had to get up in the morning, and we worked out on Georgia's field.

"I think we over probably over did that."

Fresh off the Texas win, OU's players and staff underwent its regular COVID-19 testing on April 19 before boarding a mid-afternoon flight.

Following its long travel day, OU and Georgia battled to nine innings in their first of two games. The Bulldogs narrowly prevailed, 7-6, to end OU's perfect record and snap the Sooners' 40-game winning streak that it started during their 2020 campaign before it was canceled at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gasso isn't one to get too high on records or winning streaks. She saw the loss, which OU quickly avenged later in the night, as a necessary step to her national title contender.

"This trip was necessary, 100%," Gasso said last Tuesday. "We needed it. We were kind of walking into a trap, but what was important for us is to see how it feels when your body is maybe not all there.

"But, I mean, we just flat out got beat. We needed to feel what that felt like and learn from it. I don't regret one thing."

OU responded to its first loss with a 12-3 rout of the Bulldogs in five innings to cap the doubleheader and rolled through the Red Raiders before finally getting to the Bears.

Perhaps the emotional 72 hours from beating Texas to facing Georgia will soon serve a bigger purpose.

"I'm so glad we did it, because we've learned how to do things differently and I'm anxious to see how it plays out because it will really help us as we go into postseason," Gasso said.

"Another way to get something out of that Georgia series is how to manage what we're doing going forward."

Joe Buettner

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