So what does Oklahoma softball do for an encore after an emphatic win against then-No. 1 UCLA last weekend?
It’s time to go home.
After spending the past three weekends in California and Texas, the Sooners are in Norman this weekend for games against Illinois-Chicago and Kentucky.
If last week’s focus was on not hitting the panic button after the surprise loss to Baylor, this week turn it around. After dismantling the Bruins 14-0 in five innings, well, now you have to remember it’s only the first weekend in March.
“It is too early. We’re not there,” said the head coach Patty Gasso said. “So I guess we’re playing really well and that’s all I can say because I don’t know how they would compare how they played. So it doesn’t get too high.
“Everyone just puts it in the universe, and I’m just saying these guys (just) don’t care. Because it doesn’t matter. It’s just finding us where we are in the season. And right now I like where we are in the season.
The win catapulted OU back into the No. 1 ranking, now at 13-1 overall. The Wildcats will give OU a test, but it’s one the Sooners like to do in their backyard.
The suitcases can finally stay at home.
“We’ve been on the road for three weeks and it’s (like) ‘Keep your suitcase out.’ That’s terrible. I tell these guys, “Go home and put your suitcase away. Don’t look at it.” But I know they don’t. I think they just leave everything in there until they throw it in the washing machine and put it back in,” Gasso said. “So it’s nice to put our suitcase away.
“Just sleeping in your bed, having familiar faces here and just your home crowd, your music is important, hitting our pitch instead of hitting in pop-up cages, it’s just everything about it exciting. Families all come in. So I know we’re all looking forward to it.”
The Sooners went 5-0 this past weekend, with four wins on the points rule, beating their opponents 50-4.
*Welcome back to catcher Kinzie Hansen. After missing the first two weekends of the season, she was back. A different mindset, a disinterested attitude and positive results followed.
Hansen hit two of OU’s six home runs on Sunday vs. UCLA, her first two of the season. It’s not just her bat in the box or catching her behind the plate. It is an attitude, a presence.
“It just felt normal. When she’s not there, you feel she’s not there,” said Gasso. “Her presence behind the plate but also her presence in the dugout. She has become a very good vocal leader. She’s the one I saw picking up and carrying people’s bags last weekend when they had their hands full. Just do those little things. Caring about the team, I think people recognize that. She has a mission.”
Hansen said her injuries last season made her see things very differently from then on. Much less about the ‘me’ and much more about the ‘we’ and a team-first attitude.
* You’re only going to know if you go through it. Alex Storako was a force as a pitcher at Michigan, and there was nothing to indicate she wouldn’t be able to do it at OU.
But you just don’t know. After her weekend jaunt, including a three-hit shutout of the Bruins, the questions no longer linger as to where she fits in and what Storako can do.
“I feel like I can trust her. I still wasn’t quite sure where she was,’ Gasso said. “She was trying to get to know us, learn about Coach (Jennifer) Rocha and her style. And she has it. She now has it under her belt. She feels very confident. She’s feisty, she’s fiery, and she’s fun to watch. She really took our team to the next level. Our team really wanted to play behind her. I have a lot of confidence in what I have seen.”
Storako said the key was to be yourself, not get too excited or look too far ahead. Just focus on the moment and do what she does best.