Photo credit Ty Russell/OU Athletics
Losing is absolutely unavoidable but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you go looking for it. Unless perhaps you’re Patty Gasso. She and her Sooners were chasing greatness but Gasso had a major concern in the fact that they hadn’t really been tested. Oklahoma was 33-0 and riding a 40-game winning streak, that dated back to last season, but they hadn’t walked through the fire in 2021. They hadn’t been pressed or push to the edge. They hadn’t experienced the bitter taste of defeat. That’s not the case anymore.
OU lost an outright heavy weight battle to Georgia on Tuesday and they’re better because of it. Don’t take my word on it, take Patty Gasso’s. She needed her team to experience this and she felt as if Athens, Georgia was a place where it could happen.
“This trip was necessary, 100%,” Gasso said on Tuesday night. “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. Taking this trip was important for us to learn.”
Her ladies fought tooth and nail to remain perfect. The Bulldogs threw everything at them but clutch pitching, a timely grand slam home run, and exceptional fielding made 20th-ranked Georgia go nine innings to earn the victory.
Before Tuesday night all Oklahoma knew was victory and everything came easy to them. Of their 33 wins on the season 25 of them came by way of run-rule. They had hit a nation’s best 102 home runs and had outscored opponents 387-42 on the season while outhitting opposing teams 403-91. That’s why Gasso was worried. How would this team respond to losing should it ever happen? Turns out, they responded pretty well.
Thirty minutes after the loss Oklahoma took the field against Georgia for the second game of the doubleheader. The Bulldogs had nothing left in the tank after exhausting everything they had at knocking of the top-ranked Sooners in game one. Meanwhile, all Oklahoma had was a determination to prove themselves and get away from the stench of loss. The result was a 12-3 run-rule victory in just five innings.
Georgia send four pitchers to the circle in an effort to try and find an answer to Oklahoma’s powerful lineup and the Sooners responded by plating 12 runs in five innings. It was a successful experiment for Patty Gasso.
“I was proud of them coming back,” Gasso said. “Because it was a hard-fought first game. You could feel that. It’s very much like that when you’re in postseason. Your body is just spent, and you’ve got to figure out how to make your body do things that maybe it doesn’t feel like doing. And that’s what I felt was happening today, so it was good for us. And I appreciate the opportunity to play Georgia. They’ve got a good pitcher who is probably one of the toughest pitchers we’ve faced thus far. She did a good job against us.”
What we learned about the Sooners on Tuesday is that they aren’t perfect. I think that Patty Gasso already suspected that but perhaps the fans needed to be tuned in on that notion as well. “It’s showing that we need to get better, Gasso said about the defeat. “We need to get better. We’re not good enough. We need to get better and they all agree, this team agrees. I think this could end up being one of the most rewarding weekends, just from what we’ve learned from it.”
What we also learned is that this team is going to be a monster in the post season. You’ll have to literally throw everything at them in an effort to beat them once and then pray that you have enough left to not get embarrassed the second time around. That’s a tough way to approach a double-elimination regional or super regional.
Patty Gasso and the Sooners are chasing greatness and Tuesday night didn’t derail them from it. Tuesday night strengthened their odds of achieving it.
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