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Now or never for OU softball, ready to take on Gators one more time

Bob Przybyloby:Bob Przybylo06/04/24


OKLAHOMA CITY – The No. 1 lesson OU softball has learned in 2024 is that this season was going to be hard.

That’s not to say the other three national championships haven’t been a grind, haven’t had their struggles. But there has just been something about this season where OU has felt, dare we say, vulnerable. The joke has been they’re human, too.

The players and head coach Patty Gasso were consistent Monday in saying it’s not the pressure that’s overwhelming. But we’ll find out if this incredible senior class has one more memorable moment in them.

It’s No. 2 OU vs. No. 4 Florida at 1 p.m. at OGE Field at Devon Park. Not very complicated. Winner moves on and plays No. 1 Texas in the WCWS championship series. Loser goes home.

“They’re fighters. They’re fighters,” Gasso said. “It is hard to beat us twice. It has happened this season. This is really going to be a call-out. They know it. They know what’s going on, know what’s at stake.

“Who are we? What are we made of? We talked about really going in as an army of 21 instead of separation here, separation there, frustration over there. We can’t live like that. Talked about a family, strong-knit, 21, fighting for every pitch, fighting for every out, throwing very competitive pitches. We just need to be sharper, better.”

You want to make history? Want to earn that unprecedented fourth straight national championship? You’re going to have to fight.

It’s a who knows type of situation? The Sooners have lost back-to-back games twice this season. Once at Texas in April and then at home vs. Oklahoma State in May.

It’s not an unrealistic proposition in 2024. But for those seniors, especially the core four that have been there from the start, they’re not ready to give up the crown.

“That the Sooners play best after we get punched in the mouth,” said senior co-captain Kinzie Hansen about the 2024 lesson. “That’s what I’ve learned this season.”

If it’s truly learned, we’ll see it on full display Tuesday afternoon.

Breaking it down

Look, the OU offense was dormant for the first part of Monday’s game. However, there was some very good things in the final innings.

OU put up seven hits. Had five runners on base in the sixth and seventh innings. Maybe, just maybe, OU had begun to figure out Florida ace Keagan Rothrock.

“Very helpful. Very helpful,” Gasso said. “I think we’re going to go back and look at our at-bats so we know exactly what we were seeing.

“It was helpful to see that. She’s a hoss. She’s really doing a great job for that program. As a freshman, really very impressive.”

OU just saw 130 pitches from Rothrock. Admittedly, Rothrock never blinked. But that’s 130 more pitches than what the Gators saw from Kelly Maxwell.

You know Maxwell is going to get the ball Tuesday. She had one heck of a moment Saturday vs. UCLA. Maxwell will need to be every bit as good again to send the Gators home and the Sooners to the best-of-three against Texas.

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