OU softball 'very knowledgeable' about NCAA super regional foe, Florida State

NORMAN — To Patty Gasso, it was inevitable these two programs would meet eventually.

OU softball’s super regional opponent is no stranger to the program. The Sooners (52-6) and Florida State (46-14) have met in the Women’s College World Series finals two of the past three seasons.

Seminoles head coach Lonni Alameda even played for the Sooners from 1990-92, back when OU called Reaves Park its home.

“We're excited and we're very knowledgeable of Florida State and vice versa,” Gasso said Tuesday. “There's a lot of offensive explosiveness coming our way, a lot of very good base running. They've had good success with their pitching, good enough to win games. So this is going to be a challenge, without question. Our offense is going to have to step forward.”

Gasso even recognizes some of FSU’s players’ names because she’s scouted and faced them numerous times.

“It helps both teams know exactly what you're getting versus having to really research,” Gasso said. “I think that both teams have significant elders. There's good leadership on both sides. There's an elderly roster for both teams who have been there and done that so there's nothing new, no surprises.”

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Oklahoma head softball coach Patty Gasso talks to the team during a time out of the NCAA Norman Regional tournament softball final between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Oregon Ducks at Love's Field in Norman, Okla. Sunday, May, 19, 2024.
Oklahoma head softball coach Patty Gasso talks to the team during a time out of the NCAA Norman Regional tournament softball final between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Oregon Ducks at Love's Field in Norman, Okla. Sunday, May, 19, 2024.

But while there’s familiarity with some of Florida State’s seniors and its style of play, this is a different Seminoles team. They’re led by freshmen Jaysoni Beachum, who is hitting a team-best .425 with 15 home runs and 65 RBIs, and ace Ashtyn Danley who holds a 3.12 ERA with 101 strikeouts.

The focus for Gasso’s team to start the week has been limiting FSU’s power on offense and figuring out ways to navigate its relentless work ethic on defense. The Sooners have even picked up on some similarities between the two programs and how the two teams mirror the other.

“They're a great team,” OU senior utility Alyssa Brito said Tuesday. “Just a well coached staff and team. They've been in those situations in the World Series for countless years. They've won a national championship themselves.”

The best-of-three, WCWS finals rematch between the No. 2-seeded Sooners and the No. 15-seeded Seminoles begins at 6 p.m. Thursday at Love’s Field on ESPN2.

“Now, sometimes you just expect (this),” Gasso said. “You're thinking, ‘Certainly you're not going to do this.’ And then it happens. You're like, ‘Of course. I knew this was going to happen.’

“The dream team of ESPN is here. I mean, it's all lined up for great television and it's a nighttime game so people want to see it. They want to see the two, knowing one is not going to be at the World Series and one is and that that's worth watching because we're both going to fight to the end.”

More: Relive OU softball's run to three straight WCWS titles with our 'Crimson Empire' book

Ella Parker adjusting to postseason play

Alyssa Brito played with Ella Parker when she was 10 years old and has been waiting to share moments like playing in the postseason with her.

Parker arrived on campus with high expectations as Extra Innings’ No. 3 ranked recruit in the class of 2023. But she’s surpassed those and more with her play, hitting .413 with 12 home runs and 57 RBIs this season.

“I've always known that Ella had it in her,” Brito said. “I think just where we've come from and seeing how much she's grown over the years, it's really been, for me, just like big sister moments. And we don't really say it often to her because it's just, growing up in that area and that space, it’s what you're supposed to do. It's like an expectation that you have for yourself and for one another.

“But it's been really awesome just to see her finally getting to college here at OU and just the fact that she landed here and that we're getting to spend our senior year together with her is really cool.”

The pressure of the postseason beginning last weekend with the Norman Regional didn’t seem to faze Parker as she recorded five hits and smacked a home run in three games. Parker and fellow freshman Kasidi Pickering have become significant contributors on a team led by experienced, three-time national champions.

But there were some nerves entering the regional stage for the first time.

"It was a lot to take in,” Parker said Tuesday. “It felt like a different atmosphere, and it was something I've never felt before. So it was not shocking, but just like a different type of feeling I've never felt before. But once we all settled in and the game settled in, it was like I was just back at home and really comfortable."

It’s safe to say Parker is settled and will be ready Thursday.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OU softball 'very knowledgeable' on Florida State, Patty Gasso says