OU softball celebrates WCWS four-peat; Joe Castiglione brings goats: 'Real recognize real'

NORMAN — Joe Castiglione had a surprise for OU softball’s seniors.

During Saturday evening’s event celebrating the back-to-back-to-back-to-back national champion Sooners, the crowd at Love’s Field heard several speeches. OU President Joseph Harroz Jr., Castiglione, Norman Mayor Larry Heikkila, head coach Patty Gasso and co-captains Kinzie Hansen and Tiare Jennings each delivered messages recapping another title.

After Castiglione’s speech, the Sooners' athletic director went to fetch his present for the seniors, who lined up near the third base line. He emerged from the dugout with three goats, crowning the senior class as the greatest of all time.

“Real recognize real,” Castiglione said as he walked the goats out on their leashes.

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The Sooners’ class of 10 seniors certainly left their mark on the program’s history, with five of those 10 — Rylie Boone, Jayda Coleman, Hansen, Jennings and Nicole May — winning four consecutive national titles.

Of course Castiglione’s message could also be directed at Gasso, who claimed her eighth national championship on Thursday night.

“They play hard,” Gasso said of her 2024 team. “They care about the University of Oklahoma. They care about this program, they care about the past but they really showed me that they care about each other.”

Many thank-yous were in order after the journey of the season.

Gasso thanked her team, the administration and her coaching staff for their hard work during a season in which the program opened the new $47.9 million stadium that seats 4,200 people and endured struggles like having its 71-game winning streak snapped by Louisiana the same weekend. She also took a moment to address the loyal fan base that sold out every game at Love’s Field in 2024.

“Thank you for filling the stadium,” Gasso said. “Thank you for believing in this team. Thank you for showing up paying probably pretty big dollars at Hall of Fame stadium to watch this team win another national championship. Thank you for changing the sport because you have so much passion.”

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By the time Jennings stood at the lectern, the emotions from everyone on the field were evident. Although she’ll return alongside Hansen and Karlie Keeney as graduate assistants next season, Jennings offered a heartfelt farewell to her teammates.

“This team, what a ride it’s been,” Jennings told her teammates. “You guys are crazy. The championships are really nice but the relationships mean even more and I love you guys from the bottom of my heart.”

Just before the curtain unveiled the eighth title banner in left field, Gasso mentioned how nine is a number she’s already thinking about. Gasso’s staff has wasted no time since Game 2 of the Women’s College World Series finals concluded and have already begun recruiting.

Gasso reaffirmed Thursday night she’s especially excited to coach next year’s iteration of OU softball, but she left those loyal fans in attendance at Love’s Field Saturday with a cautionary memo. It’s no secret the Sooners will look drastically different in 2025, but they’ll always have a chance with one of the GOATs at the helm.

“Just be patient, we’re losing 10 seniors,” Gasso said. “We’re going to rebuild this into something wonderful.”

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OU softball celebrates WCWS four-peat; Joe Castiglione brings goats