Oklahoma enters the postseason just four games shy of a record winning streak and looking to join UCLA as the only programs to ever three-peat as national champions. It’s not like the Sooners needed any additional motivation but they may have gotten it on Wednesday anyway. The Top 3 Finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year have been released and not a single player from OU was named.
Rather than picking the most dominate player from the most dominating team in the nation, USA Softball instead went with Clemson’s Valerie Cagle, UCLA’s Maya Brady and Florida’s Skylar Wallace. This isn’t a knock against any of these young ladies rather, it’s a bit of a shocker that Oklahoma’s Jayda Coleman (the 2023 Big 12 Player of the Year) didn’t make it as a Top 3 finalists.
Brady was the 2023 Pac-12 Player of the Year after leading the conference with a .458 batting average – which also ranks sixth in the nation – while placing among the Top 10 in five additional categories including total bases (2nd – 148), runs per game (7th – 1.12 RPG), slugging percentage (7th – .892), RBIs (9th – 59 RBI) and home runs (10th – 18 HR).
Cagle enters the postseason with a .457 batting average, .889 slugging percentage. She also set a new single-season record for Clemson with 18 home runs while being stellar from the circle with a 23-5 record and a 1.20 ERA through 169 innings pitched. That places her 11th nationally in number of wins.
Wallace was the 2023 S.E.C. Player of the Year after leading the nation with a 1.036 slugging percentage while also ranking fifth with a .460 batting average. She also led the nation in total bases (142), and triples (8) while ranking second in walks (49), runs scored (69) and stolen bases (30).
All three are fantastic players who had fantastic seasons but we’ve got to be real in what a travesty it was that Jayda Coleman were left off. She, along with Tiare Jennings and Jordy Bahl were among the Top 10 Finalists but it was Coleman who stood out the most. Coleman led the Sooners with 13 home runs and .454 batting average among numerous other categories to go with a .862 slugging clip and .575 on-base percentage. Her batting, slugging and on-base percentages rank in the top 10 in the country.
What makes Patty Gasso the best coach in the Nation is her ability to take a group of all-star talents and focus them on a one-team, one-goal mentality. They’re likely to rally around each other in the same manor they did last weekend when Haley Lee, Alex Storako, and Alyssa Brito were left off the Big 12 All-Conference First Team. Lee ended up being named the Big 12 Tournament Most Valuable Player as the Sooners walked off the field hoisting the championship trophy. Now, take that mindset and amplify it on a national level. That’s what is about to take place as the Norman Regional gets underway on Friday.
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