Love’s Field marks new beginnings built on historic success

The Oklahoma Sooners will host the OU Tournament this weekend in Norman. They’ll carry a 67-game winning streak into the weekend, looking to extend it to 72.

They’ll try to make it just another day at the ballpark. But for Patty Gasso and the Oklahoma Sooners softball program, today is unlike any other they’ve experienced.

The Sooners’ living legend of a head coach has created a dynasty at Oklahoma but is still taken aback by what she and her program have accomplished with the move to Love’s Field.

“I don’t know what to tell you about Love’s Field, because it’s still a dream,” Gasso told reporters earlier this week. “Until the first pitch is thrown is when I will really pinch myself.”

Friday marks the grand opening of Love’s Field, the 4,200-seat stadium built on the sweat equity and success of Gasso and the Sooners. Success that has come over almost three decades at the University of Oklahoma.

Gasso, who helped move Oklahoma from Reaves Park in Norman to Marita Hynes Field, will usher the Sooners and their passionate fan base into a stadium that will triple the capacity of their previous home. As she considers what this means for her team and for softball, Gasso reflects back on how far they’ve come.

“I think of the 2000 team,” Gasso said. “I think of the team that was over at Reaves and never got a locker room. … I think about those athletes that are alums but never got to experience this. So what we’re really trying to do is embrace all of our alumni and say, ‘You’ve all built this.’

The Sooners have had the best home-field advantage in softball for years now. Sooner softball has long been the hottest ticket of the spring, made even more sought after during their three-plus-year reign atop the college softball world.

But it isn’t just the recent success that’s driven the need for greater fan capacity in the softball capital of the world. It’s the success that Gasso has had over three decades in Norman, compiling seven national championships with a team that’s been a huge part of the growth of the sport across the country.

And although she’s seen the stadium while it progressed to completion, Gasso’s looking forward to seeing Love’s Field with a capacity crowd.

“I wasn’t supposed to, but I couldn’t help it,” Gasso said. “And it is an absolute ‘wow factor’ empty. I can’t even imagine when you get excited Sooners fans in there what this is going to be like. I think we all feel a little anxious about it because we just don’t know what it’s going to play like, what it’s going to feel like. We may not know that until the first pitch.”

For many in the softball world, this isn’t a significant step for the Oklahoma Sooners, but for the sport. It’s another step in growing the game across the country and around the world. And as the Sooners throw the first pitch at the $48 million Love’s Field, it will be a pitch heard around the world.

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Story originally appeared on Sooners Wire