With no ESPN television, you probably missed a fantastic game over the weekend. Jadna Coleman hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the tenth as the Sooners took down the Tennessee Volunteers in softball. As you can imagine, the Vols gave us all we wanted in that one. The Sooners also had to rally from behind to finish off Utah a day later in the final game of the west coast classic.
That’s the good news…the bad news is that OU’s dominant pitching staff proved that they were human by being touched up for eight runs and ten hits against Tennessee. On the positive side these games will serve as a wake-up call for Sooner fans. It’s early and we have a lot of softball left to be played before we crown another National Champion.
Unlike OU fans, Patty Gasso knew better than to get ahead of herself. She would be the first to admit that OU’s early season schedule was on the weak side. She wanted to use these games to pad the Sooner win column and to create momentum for the middle portion of the schedule. She also wanted to allow all three pitchers plenty of game time.
She was hoping that her senior laden team could beat up on weaker teams without getting ahead of themselves. It appears that her strategy is working as the team will leave the west coast undefeated, but aware of the need for improvement.
This team has also learned that any team coming out of the SEC will be battle tested. The Volunteers that gave us all that we wanted are no better than a middle level team in that league. The SEC as a whole has eight (8) teams ranked in the top 25. The Big 12 by comparison has two. Teams from that league will be battle tested.
Both Alabama and Florida will be as tough as nails by the time they reach OKC in June…to win another NC, we will have to develop that same mantra…
With men’s basketball on life support, a renewed appreciation and focus for OU women’s sports is in order. Thank God for women’s softball, tennis, gymnastics, and basketball these days. We’ll talk about that later in the blog, but first let’s talk softball.
OU softball dominated the competition on the west coast the first weekend of the season. The Sooners went 5-0 including a win over #3 ranked UCLA. This past weekend the Sooners added five wins to their total to start the year off 10-0. Against #3 ranked UCLA Patty Gasso showed real Moxy by starting true freshman Jordy Bahl. Bahl responded by striking out 14 batters that day.
This move only served to reinforce Sooner Nation’s respect for Patty Gasso as a coach and leader. Not only did her freshman pitcher become the ace of the staff just eight months out of high school, but the other members of her pitching staff understood the move and where they will stand moving forward in the overall scheme of things. This must be the strongest pitching staff top to bottom in America.
Opening weekend season pitching stats for opening weekend…
12.2 (0.00) 24/3 Jordy Bahl
11.0 (0.00) 16/1 Hope Trautwein
5.1 (0.00) 11/2 Nicole May
Other women’s sports…
- OU women beat top ranked Texas in Indoor tennis and the team is now ranked #2 in the country.
- Women’s gymnastics team ranks #2 in the nation only weeks away from the national tournament in Fort Worth.
- OU women’s basketball team is now 20-5. The team is now projected as a #3 seed in the tournament. What a difference a year can make.
Lost in the pathetic ending to this past season is the Spencer Rattler story. As we know the 2021 season got off to a slow start and as usual, the quarterback was blamed for this happening. As we also know there were well-documented reasons for this downturn that were outside Spencer Rattler’s control.
Regardless, the natives were restless and with Superman pacing the sidelines, it was simply a matter of time before a quarterbacking change was made. The first half of the Texas game simply greased the skids for this to occur. Once Spencer Rattler was relegated to the bench, Lincoln was not going to look back. CW was his man.
Granted, we will always cherish that 2nd half comeback against Texas, but after that win the season for the Sooners was for the most part over. Discounting the bowl exhibition game against Oregon, we won only four games the rest of the year with CW at quarterback.
We barely escaped Lawrence with a win over Kansas and lost to Baylor and OSU down the stretch. Spencer Rattler was sent packing and as they say the rest is history. Lost in the shuffle was Spencer’s 16-2 mark at quarterback that included a Big 12 Championship. Also lost in the shuffle is the manner in which Spencer Rattler managed his demotion.
From all accounts, Spencer Rattler handled the situation well. One must wonder how CW and his dad would have handled things if the roles had been reversed. Oh well, what’s done is done…it’s time to move on. We will however inherit a positive by-product from this sordid affair.
There will be two USC programs to follow next year. One on the west coast and one on the east. The west coast USC is not worthy of our disdain but rooting for the east coast USC team will be a tons of fun. Hopefully, the USC (South Carolina) Gamecocks and Spencer Rattler will have a breakout year in 2022.
OU fans were shocked by Lincoln Riley’s sudden departure from OU back in December. The collateral damage of losing players and recruits made us crazy mad. That was the bad news…in reality, Lincoln’s leaving, and the timing of the move has turned out to be good news. Yes, we lost a couple players, but the new guy has more than made up for those losses.
Coaching moves invariably create issues on the recruiting trail. New coaches are given a pass for that first year because of the transition from one coach to the next. A case in point is a look at Lincoln Riley’s first class at USC where he finished # 65 in 247sports rankings.
Brent Venables on the other hand has defied the odds. Never in the history of college football has a new coach turned things around on the recruiting trail more quickly than Brent Venables.
Lincoln Riley’s last two recruiting classes at OU were ranked #13 and #16. Brent Venables’ first class in Norman is ranked #8 in both Rivals and 247sports. His transfer portal class is ranked #4 by 247sports… no other college team/coach comes close to those combined numbers.
Gracen Halton, a blue-chip defensive lineman from California seems to have summed things up perfectly. Halton shared with the press that Brent Venables’ authenticity and genuine caring attitude had his parents near tears at the end of his home visit. That’s right, Gracen and his parents were sold, and he flipped his commitment.
Here’s another side to this story. If Lincoln had not left when he did, we would have been stuck with Lincoln Riley and not Brent Venables on the recruiting trail. That would have meant that at this point we would have inherited the latest batch of prima donnas mapping out their NIL deals instead of recruits mapping out their team goals.
The Lord works in mysterious ways, this is one of those times.