There was a strong debate on whether Alabama or UCLA should have been the top overall seed going into the NCAA Softball Tournament. Neither of those teams made it to the championship series. There was speculation cast after Oklahoma lost the WCWS opener to James Madison, and then even more doubt after dropping the championship series opener to Florida State. None of that mattered on Thursday afternoon though as the Sooners walked off the field hoisting the national championship trophy. Here’s what Patty Gasso, Jayda Coleman, Nicole Mendes, Giselle Juarez, and Jocelyn Alo had to say about Oklahoma’s fifth national title.
Yeah, it’s kind of just been smooth sailing, quite honestly. As a DP and as a hitter, I try not to think so much about outcomes, more so just focusing on the process of things.
Really I was just going up there and I was doing my thing. Today when I seen the ball go out, I was like, yes, finally.
But yeah, it was just very good. I just really stuck to my plan, and I knew what I wanted. It was good to see the ball go out and just give us the early lead.Jocelyn Alo on making an impact as a designated player
I knew we were good. I knew we were good. It was really what got us here was really good leadership, a great staff, great strength coach, great hitting coach, great pitching coach. Just surrounded with some really hardworking people.
I think these hardworking people had so much belief in this team and they felt it daily. We practiced hard. 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.Patty Gasso on knowing that her team was special early in the year
Honestly I was kind of hoping it didn’t go in the sun and that they would let me catch it. But I mean, it felt so slow motion, and then just to look up after I caught it and see Hanson running at me, surreal, awesome moment.Giselle Juarez on catching the final out
I just remember being so proud. I remember last year whenever she got hurt and her not knowing if she would be able to come back. I remember two years ago in ’19 being on the other side of this ball and her pitching her heart out, and to see her come back from both of those two big adversities and to be where she is, I just can only smile because it’s such a G thing to do, to come in and to say, okay, you know what, I’m going to own this one, and I’m going to bounce back from this injury, and I’m going to carry my team to this championship. Such a special moment.Nicole Mendes on Giselle Juarez
Winning a national championship my freshman year, it was high expectations, but you know that when you commit here and when you sign here you have very high expectations. You’re the best of the best, and you play the best of the best all the time.
I can’t believe I’m sitting here right now actually having this hat on and this shirt. Like I knew I believed in this team that we were going to do it, but to actually do it, I just like want to cry. This is my dream, and to do it my freshman year, now I’ve just got to keep doing it, not give up and just keep working.Jayda Coleman on winning the title as a freshman
I think this morning. Not super early. But it was before we had left the hotel.
I felt good. I knew adrenaline was going to be going through. I mean, it was my last game here as a Sooner, and I just wanted to leave it all out there on the field for my teammates, and that’s what I did.Juarez on when she was told that she would get the start
It’s going to be tough without them next year, man. It’s going to be so sad without them. It’s just kind of setting in that this was my last game with them. I’ve come through this program with them, and they mean so much to this program, and I’m so happy we could win a national championship for them.Alo on the significance of Gisele Juarez, Shannon Saile, and Nicole Mendes
Absolutely, yeah. You’ve got Lauren Chamberlain, Jocelyn Alo, you’ve got Shelby Pendley and Tiare Jennings. You can compare them all the way down the lineup. We had more lefties in the 2013, but they were hybrid type players. They could bunt. They could slap. They could hit gaps. They could hit it out at times. We had a few of our athletes like a Jayda Coleman being able to do that.
So they were very comparable top to bottom. Don’t make me choose because I can’t. They’re both very worthy.Gasso on comparing this team to the 2013 national championship team
I think that I grew from a young girl into a woman during these past five years. Coming in as a freshman and winning it and then struggling and grinding and working with different teams to get back to this moment and finally in my last year winning it again, I don’t know, it just seems like such a way to go out, and I know a lot of athletes don’t get to experience this kind of closure the way that us super seniors have been able to, but I mean, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The ups, the downs, the trials, I’m at peace, and I am so grateful for the time that I’ve had at OU and for the experiences Coach has taught me and what the team has taught me.Mendes on starting and ending her career at Oklahoma with a national championship
We’ve been resilient since I stepped on campus just with COVID and just with all the things that we’ve had to go through.
The pride of not letting a team beat us twice is something that I hope to take into next year, and we’ve shown throughout this season, like we can’t let this team beat us twice. Let’s trust in each other and let’s keep on moving and let’s just fight, fight to the end.Coleman on the resilience of the team
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