Sooners set for California tourney, bout against UCLA
NORMAN — Coming off its first loss of the season, OU’s softball team won’t have it any easier this weekend.
The Sooners travel to Cathedral City, California, for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
Once there, the now second-ranked Sooners will take on Cal State-Fullerton and Texas A&M on Friday, and Utah and Loyola Marymount on Saturday before the main showdown — against topranked UCLA at 11:30 a.m. Sunday.
OU went 2-1 last season against the Bruins, falling in the third round of the Women’s College World Series but bouncing back to eliminate UCLA with a 15-0, five-inning win to advance to the WCWS Championship Series.
UCLA enters the weekend 12-0 with wins over No. 6 Florida State, No. 10 Virginia Tech and No. 11 Alabama.
Here are five things to know about the Sooners heading into the event:
Loss not too concerning for Patty Gasso
With just seven losses over the previous two seasons (compared to 115 wins), any OU loss draws attention.
But Sooners coach Patty Gasso said she’s not as worried about her team’s record as them learning from the experiences at this point of the season.
“It’s the journey, the process,” Gasso said. “We could end up losing two or three games this weekend, and we’re still going to be OK. We play over 60 games. I don’t want them to feel that kind of pressure. I want them to learn how to play free and confident and not be worried about the outcomes. Because that’s when the problems come in when you’re afraid.
“So there’s no panic and there’s no ‘we have to do anything.’ We don’t have to until we get down to the very end, and if you don’t then you’re going home. It’s just staying with that mindset that we have.”
Patty Gasso happy with Jordy Bahl so far
In the loss to Baylor in Waco, sopho
more pitcher Jordy Bahl allowed four runs in six innings in the circle.
All of the Bears’ runs came in the third inning, when Baylor got three singles off of Bahl before a three-run home run.
In five appearances this season, Bahl is 3-1 with a 2.58 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 11 walks in 21 innings.
Last season, she was 22-1 with 205 strikeouts and 34 walks in 141 innings.
After a rough outing against Washington in the season’s opening week, Gasso said Bahl was a “little more Jordylike,” in Waco.
“I think everybody is looking for like a dominant, ‘Where’s Jordy?’ Any freshman that has a great year, they go into their sophomore year and it’s different,” Gasso said. “Who knows what they’re thinking. Are they trying to match it? Jocelyn Alo, some of my greatest players have gone through trying to find themselves their sophomore season. Jordy is making really good progress. I thought she threw really well. Threw well
enough against Baylor for a win. It was just that one untimely hit that cleared the bases for them. I think she’s on the right path.”
Reunion weekend for Sooners
Gasso joked this week that facing Utah wouldn’t be too much of a challenge for her pitchers.
“Good pitching,” Gasso said of the Utes. “An average hitting coach there. That might be a problem for them.”
Gasso quickly clarified that she was kidding.
Utah’s hitting coach is DJ Gasso, Patty Gasso’s son.
That won’t be the only reunion that will take place at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
Utes pitching coach Paige Parker is a former OU star.
On Friday, Sooners’ transfer addition Haley Lee will get a chance to face her old team when OU takes on Texas A&M.
Lee is fourth in Aggies’ program history with a .365 career average and is tied for sixth with 47 career home runs. She left College Station third in slugging percentage (.704) as well.
Lee is hitting .421 with a home run and eight RBIs with a .579 slugging percentage in eight games at OU so far.
Hannah Coor redshirting
After appearing in four games over the opening weekend, sophomore Hannah Coor did not appear in any last weekend.
It’ll be a while before Coor is on the field for the Sooners again.
“She is going to take a medical (redshirt),” Gasso said. “She has some back issues that is going to cause surgery. She’s been in constant pain, and it’s hard to watch an athlete in that space.”
Gasso said Coor would undergo surgery in early March, and though she could return late in the season, that she would remain out to preserve the season of eligibility.
“This has been going on for a long time,” Gasso said. “A long time. … I think she didn’t want to make the decision, but she made it, and I 100% support it.”
Coor was primarily a pinch runner for OU last season, scoring 19 runs with six stolen bases in 40 games.
This season, she was 0 for 1 in four appearances, mostly as a late defensive replacement in the outfield.
Kinzie Hansen returning
After missing the first nine games of the season following surgery on her appendix, senior catcher Kinzie Hansen figures to make her season debut in California.
“I think you’ll see her this weekend a bit,” Gasso said. “Not catching every game, but you’ll see her in a uniform and likely on the field.”
Hansen, a 2022 USA Softball Women’s National Team member, started 41 games at catcher a year ago, hitting .273 with eight home runs, six doubles and 29 RBIs while battling through injuries.
During her first two seasons in Norman, Hansen hit .431.
“You can feel her not in the lineup last weekend,” Gasso said. “So our team recognized it. She did a good job trying to stay very vocal, but there’s just a presence that she has that also exudes confidence and gives it to the rest of the team. It’ll be nice to have her back.”