What Patty Gasso, players said after Oklahoma softball’s fifth national title win

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No. 1 Oklahoma softball claimed their fifth national title in program history on Thursday with a dominant 5-1 win over Florida State in the decisive Game 3 of the Women’s College World Series finals.

Starting pitcher Giselle Juarez was once again tremendous throwing seven sensational innings that locked up her bringing home the award for the Most Outstanding Player of the week. Jocelyn Alo’s 34th home run of the year set the tone early and the Sooners simply never looked back cruising to the title-clinching win.

The argument can easily be made that this is the greatest team in the history of softball after the absurd offensive numbers they put up all season long. At the very least, this is a historic team that won’t be soon forgotten.

After the game, head coach Patty Gasso, Juarez and Alo spoke to the media about their incredible run. Here are some of the highlights of what they had to say:

Patty Gasso

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

On Giselle Juarez

"Giselle, my heart just was overflowing with joy for her because it was a tough season for her. It was her super senior year. She had a lot of things to prove. 2019 didn't finish the way she wanted, and went through some really tenacious surgery and rehab just to get back and play that last season. I'm just overwhelmed with joy for that young lady because she was very diligent and fought through it and didn't have her best season, and she would tell you that, but I don't know that it matters right now to her because she had that moment in the course of about seven days. It caps off her career in the most ultimate way you could ever think of."

Winning title after everything program had to go through

"Yeah, I just don't know that people understand how rough it was. I think every coach in the country could relate, where week by week you're wondering who's going to be at practice and who might not, whether they are contact traced and they're out for two weeks, 10 days. It was really tough. It was tough on a few players particularly that were quarantined but never had tested positive, so there was a lot of that going on. When we started the season, we didn't know who might not be traveling with us. Every day at practice, I was trying to get people to learn new positions to fill in this case we don't have those players with us. It was hard. But at the same time they were so athletic and understanding about it and saying, hey, whatever we need to do to win, put me wherever you need to put me. Some players were sitting out when they know that they're good enough to be in. It was just such a selfless team approach the entire season. That's what it's about."

The role of super seniors Giselle Juarez, Nicole Mendes and Shannon Saile

"Yeah, you could see both teams today were really starting to run out of gas, especially with how hot it was and the amount of games that we've played and the quick turnarounds that we have to face on a pretty much daily basis. Giselle was -- just something different about her this week that everyone felt very confident about. She had a different look, approach, calm, confident, wanting the ball. Shannon, as well. Shannon was ready at all times. Nicole May got some very valuable experience on this big stage. But Nicole Mendes is a whole 'nother level of leader. She's so well spoken. She's so passionate. But anything she says she backs it up. I think Jocey is a lot like that, as well. Lynnsie Elam, another, she's our captain. There was some really good leadership going on this week. Those three in particular I was really proud of how they took some things over. I think they helped people like Lou get fired up and have a big week, huge week for her, and Lou was someone that is sitting out and wondering when I'm getting in. She got that opportunity, she just blasted it, and in that moment, it's like, I don't care whether this is a matchup for you or not, you're staying in the game. Some of the catches she made were incredible. Jayda Coleman, Tiare Jennings, some of the young ones had to be led by those who have been there, and they did a really nice job of that."

Passing the torch to the younger players

"Oh, I can't even tell you. It's so hard to get here. It is so difficult to be sitting here -- like I can't even -- words can't even express. It's just really hard. It's a grind. Everyone has got to be kind of in the right mindset. There are a few of our players that were really struggling uncharacteristically this week. But the freshmen, finding and feeling what it takes to pull this off, is invaluable. Kinzie Hansen, kids like that, that are just -- I guess they're super -- what are they? Super sophomores. This is a young group, and I didn't realize until we lost our first game, I'm driving home from -- or driving to the hotel from the stadium, and I'm thinking, wow, why did we look so deer in the headlights. We weren't quite ready for what we were facing with Odicci and James Madison. I started counting like how many players have been here before, and there was a lot less than what I thought because they've handled themselves so well in postseason and through the season, but it's quite a different situation when you get to the big stage and what they've been dreaming of. But for them to find out what it feels like and what it takes to win it, the future is really, really bright for the Sooners."

On Jocelyn Alo

"Yeah, we knew that we wanted to set the tone pretty early. Jocelyn Alo is made differently. Made differently. When she puts her mind to something, she gets it done, whatever it is. She is such a perfectionist with hitting. We handed her the circle late in the game, and she just got right in the middle of this team and told them what they needed to do and how they needed to change. There's nothing I'm going to do to stop that because they want to listen. They want to hear what she has to say. But she is a perfectionist and one of the smartest hitters I've ever seen, knows how to use her body the right way, knows what to look for. She was so, so focused and calm throughout this series the entire World Series that it disrupts pitchers. It disrupts their rhythm. It's hard to call, what to call against her, what pitch to throw, because she is so versatile about every pitch. She was just a really outstanding leader by voice and by example this week."

The 2021 WCWS as a whole

"Yeah, I could tell you that we were all absolutely overwhelmed with the fan support from the Sooners, from the state, from -- then there were people coming up to us at the hotel that are from different states just coming out to watch us. But the Sooner fans showed up in droves. It was so unreal. We have never felt anything like that. Our athletes were talking about, feels like we're on the sidelines of an OU football game, how loud it is. We just couldn't hear each other. The fans were passionate and they were, I thought, very respectful to our opponents, as well. They really -- when I first started here, nobody really knew what softball was about. Now we've got some very educated fans that know exactly how this game is played, and they know when to interject with us and when to feed us with their noise and their passion. It's moments that these players will never forget. It'll live in their lives forever, and they'll be able to tell their grandchildren what this felt like. But it's not just the OU fans. Every team we play has a really strong supporting group right behind their dugout that is as passionate as everybody else in the stadium that might be wearing OU. There were names that showed up like Odicci Alexander that everyone will remember from this World Series. Rachel Garcia threw her last game as a college athlete here at the College World Series. There were so many wonderful story lines, to be a part of it was really special to this team and to our program and to our university. It's been quite an honor to be a part of it, and just so appreciative of all the work that goes in by all the crew, whether it's ground crews, the NCAA crew that's helping us through a lot of the changes in schedule and so forth. What I really hope in a very sincere way, I think a lot of us coaches spoke up, this tournament is big. It's getting really, really big. It's getting a lot of viewership. It's getting talked about a lot. As coaches we just want to do what's best for this sport in a respectful way, and we just hope people are listening, whether it's changing our schedules, giving us an extra day, not having us play in late-evening games. There's just a lot of things that definitely -- instant replay, absolutely needs to be a part of this. It feels to me like this College World Series really exposed a lot of things, in a good way, that need to change to make our game better for our student-athletes."

Giselle Juarez

Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

The final catch

"Honestly I was kind of hoping it didn't go in the sun and that they would let me catch it. But I mean, it felt so slow motion, and then just to look up after I caught it and see Hanson running at me, surreal, awesome moment."

Your performance this week sunk in?

"No, it hasn't set in. But I mean, I just wanted to go out there and have my team and just give them every chance to win. The beginning of the season wasn't great for me, but I just kept grinding and trusting God's plan for myself. He had this moment planned for me, so I think just -- man, it just feels surreal right now."

When did you know you were going to pitch Game 3 and how did you feel?

"I think this morning. Not super early. But it was before we had left the hotel. I felt good. I knew adrenaline was going to be going through. I mean, it was my last game here as a Sooner, and I just wanted to leave it all out there on the field for my teammates, and that's what I did."

Jocelyn Alo

Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Performance/transition to full-time designated player

"Yeah, it's kind of just been smooth sailing, quite honestly. As a DP and as a hitter, I try not to think so much about outcomes, more so just focusing on the process of things. Really I was just going up there and I was doing my thing. Today when I seen the ball go out, I was like, yes, finally. But yeah, it was just very good. I just really stuck to my plan, and I knew what I wanted. It was good to see the ball go out and just give us the early lead."

When growing up in Hawaii did Oklahoma become the place for you?

"It was actually my senior year of high school. I don't know if you guys know, but I was actually committed to Cal Berkeley my freshman year and decommitted from there my senior year. I remember calling my travel ball coach, Coach Mike, and I was like, hey, my heart is not with Cal Berkeley no more, is there any other options? Oklahoma said they might have something, so I took a visit up there, and I committed on my 18th birthday. My birthday is always like a special thing to remember. Man, to be from Hawai'i and to be in a national championship and win a national championship was awesome. I just want to say to all the other Hawai'i kids that things like this can happen with hard work, and that you just continue to do your thing every single day."

On super seniors Giselle Juarez, Nicole Mendes and Shannon Saile

"It's going to be tough without them next year, man. It's going to be so sad without them. It's just kind of setting in that this was my last game with them. I've come through this program with them, and they mean so much to this program, and I'm so happy we could win a national championship for them." "But I was just so happy to have this with them because we've been talking about it all year, and we just continued to trust in God, and man, I'm going to miss them. I'm going to miss them so much."

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