We Are the Champions!
Battling back from the losers’ bracket, Sooners win their fifth national softball title.
It was a fight to the finish. After losing their first game of the Women’s College World Series to the James Madison Dukes, the top-seeded Oklahoma Sooners slugged, pitched, leapt and slid their way to their fifth national championship, staying alive in the face of elimination through four straight games.
No wonder the team has adopted the movie “Gladiator” as its inspiration.
The Sooners thumped the Florida State Seminoles 5-1 to win their third national title in five years while setting multiple single-season NCAA records in team batting average, team slugging percentage, on-base percentage, home runs and runs scored, among others.
“I knew we were good,” said Coach Patty Gasso after the championship game June 10 at Oklahoma City’s USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium. “What got us here was really good leadership, a great staff, great strength coach, great hitting coach, great pitching coach . . . I think these hardworking people had so much belief in this team and they felt it daily. We practiced hard daily. They’ll tell you that. That’s how it all pays off. It’s just a lot of hard work and a lot of belief in our culture and our championship mindset and all that we put to work there.”
Much of the credit for the Sooners’ never-say-die attitude goes to senior lefthander Giselle Juarez, who took home WCWS Most Outstanding Player honors for allowing just one run on two hits, striking out seven and walking two for her second complete game in roughly 20 hours.
The cherry on the championship was Juarez catching a short popup after striking out two Seminole batters in the top of the seventh, sealing a Sooners win.
The conquest began with Jocelyn Alo, the NCAA Player of the Year for the 2021 college softball season, adding to her single-season school record by hitting her 34th home run of the season with a solo shot to left field in the bottom of the first inning.
Freshman center fielder Jayda Coleman followed with a solo blast of her own to left in the second inning. OU pushed its lead to 5-1 on a passed ball and a two-run double off the top of the wall from Coleman that was inches away from being her second straight home run.
In addition to Juarez capturing the MOP award, Alo, Mackenzie Donihoo, Kinzie Hansen, Nicole Mendes and Tiare Jennings were named to the all-tournament team.
Seconds after Juarez caught the last fly of the game, she was knocked off her feet in a rush of jubilant teammates, and the persistent question of the season, “Are you not entertained?” was answered by the deafening roar of Sooner fans.