'We’re doing something right': How Jocelyn Alo and the Sooners can make history on WCWS run
NORMAN — Jocelyn Alo started stringing together home runs from the start.
She was 10 or 11 years old, breaking in a new bat in a baseball game when she belted the first pitch she saw over the centerfield fence.
“Like totally gone,” Alo said. “None of the guys had ever hit (one) over the fence so for me as a girl (to do it), I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah.’”
Her second at-bat in the game, Alo belted another, this time to left field.
Now a senior for OU, Alo remains a dominant force at the plate.
Heading into the regional opener against Morgan State at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Marita Hynes Field, Alo is leading the nation with 27 home runs.
It’s not just her, though.
The Sooners not only have more power than any team in college softball this season, but have a chance to set the all-time record for home runs.
OU has 130 heading into regionals, becoming only the third team in Division I history with 130 or more.
Tiare Jennings is tied for second nationally with 24 home runs. Kinzie Hansen is tied for eighth with 20.
Not only do the Sooners have 36 more home runs than any other team this season — Wichita State, the No. 2 seed in the Norman Regional, is second — but OU is also dominating in scoring, batting average and slugging percentage.
“I knew we had power but to this extent?” Gasso said after ticking off a large group of players she expected to produce home runs this season. “I did not expect that.”
The Sooners got off to a quick start, belting an NCAA-record 13 home runs in their 29-0 win over UTEP to start the season. OU twice tied the record for home runs in an inning in that game with five.
The Sooners have hit at least one homer in 44 of their 47 games this season.
OU (45-2) is averaging 11.19 runs per game. The gap between the No. 2 team in the category, Miami (Ohio), and the No. 40 team is smaller than the gap between OU and the RedHawks.
The gulf in slugging percentage is even bigger. In batting average, even bigger than that. The margin between the Sooners’ .419 average and the second-best hitting team this season, Texas, is bigger than the gulf between the Longhorns and No. 82.
Hawaii holds the all-time home run record with 158 in 2010, a year after Arizona set the record with 134.
Morgan State coach Larry Hineline didn’t hold back the accolades when talking about the Sooners.
“What other opportunity are you going to get to play the best team in history?” Hineline told the Baltimore Sun.
Best offense ever?
The Sooners have plenty of work to do to earn that label, but the label of best offense ever might be a formality at this point.
No team has ever posted a slugging percentage better than .699. OU’s is .799 heading into the regionals.
“Good luck with that,” Alo said, referring to teams game-planning for the Sooners’ offense.
Gasso said if she was preparing to face her own team, she might stay light on the details when it came to the scouting report.
“I would make sure they didn’t see those numbers because I think they could be daunting,” Gasso said. “You’re gonna really have to be spot on literally with where you’re putting the ball. You’ve got to find some holes in a player’s swings.”
Those details have also changed drastically how Gasso coaches.
“It always makes me second guess,” Gasso said. “Should I bunt here? Why would I hit and run? I’m questioning myself more than I ever have. Why would I bunt when this kid could hit a ball out. There are times when I’m not quite certain and I don’t always go with what my gut tells me to do.
“But we’re here so we’re doing something right.”