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Why softball home run queen's journey from Hawaii to Oklahoma is 'like some unbelievable fiction'

OKLAHOMA CITY — Jocelyn Alo’s path from her first days hitting a softball in a park in Hauula, Hawaii, to softball’s biggest stage has been nothing short of a storybook tale.

“If someone was to write this story of hers, nobody would believe it would happen actually,” Alo’s father, Levi Alo, said. “That’s how crazy it is. It would be like some unbelievable fiction that somebody wrote.”

It’s real, though.

From that public park along the northeast shorelines of Oahu to the near-daily 45-minute drives to the nearest batting cages to playing travel ball in Southern California to a record-shattering career at Oklahoma that will come to a close over the next two weeks at the Women’s College World Series, Alo’s journey has had plenty of twists and turns.

Alo and the top-seeded Sooners opened the 2022 WCWS Thursday with a win over Northwestern and play Big 12 rival Texas on Saturday (3 p.m. ET, ABC) in a winner's bracket game at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.

“It’s definitely bittersweet,” Alo said Wednesday, a day the WCWS began. “I can’t even believe that it’s my last one because … there is no next year.

“I’m just excited and just ready to leave it all out on the field.”

Jocelyn Alo (78) poses for a picture with her family during Oklahoma softball senior night in Norman on May 7, 2022.
Jocelyn Alo (78) poses for a picture with her family during Oklahoma softball senior night in Norman on May 7, 2022.

Jocelyn Alo's home away from home

For Alo, the NCAA’s all-time career home run leader and two-time national collegiate player of the year, Oklahoma has become a second home.

And USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium has become a second home to the Sooners, who are in the event for a program-record sixth consecutive time.

Alo remembers the butterflies she felt as the 2018 WCWS, her first, began.

“I was like, ‘Woah,’” Alo said. “My eyes were wide open.

“I’ve definitely learned over the years how to handle those emotions and how to handle this environment. I’ve learned a lot from people like (former Sooners) Shay Knighten, Syd Romero, Caleigh Clifton and that group of seniors on how to stay composed.”

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Wherever softball took Jocelyn, Levi was going to be right there.

“My bestie,” Jocelyn said earlier this season of her dad. “He’s been with me since Day One, and he believed in me before I even believed in myself.”

Day One came at that park in Hauula, where Jocelyn first began to develop the swing that has made her the most feared hitter in college softball.

“When she was young, she could just hit the ball hard,” Levi said. “Every team that she’s played on, whether it be baseball or softball, like she could just straight out mash the ball. From when she was 7 years old, she was just mashing balls and I was like, ‘Man, this could be pretty good.’ I still didn’t think as big as I do now but I definitely thought she was going to go to school for free.”

Jocelyn Alo celebrates with coach Oklahoma Sooners coach Patty Gasso after hitting a grand slam against Oklahoma State on May 7, 2022.
Jocelyn Alo celebrates with coach Oklahoma Sooners coach Patty Gasso after hitting a grand slam against Oklahoma State on May 7, 2022.

Growing up in Hawaii

When Alo was 7 or 8, her family moved down Oahu’s eastern shore to Kaneohe.

Initially, the setup was perfect.

There was a batting cage less than half a mile from the Alos’ home.

“We’d be there every night,” Levi said, saying he’d buy at least $10 worth of tokens every time they’d go to the cage.

About two years after the move to Kaneohe, though, the batting cage closed down.

“I think I was their only customer,” Levi said. “So we held them over for a couple years.”

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Now, the nearest batting cage was in Ewa Beach, directly west of Honolulu on the island’s southern shore, about 45 minutes away.

The drives to the batting cage helped enhance their relationship.

The work they put in once they got there helped enhance Jocelyn’s softball arc.

“The amount of reps that went into it, it’s absurd,” Levi said. “Then, her hands are blessed by God. Even if you did that many reps, your hands have to be blessed by God also. It’s crazy.”

It was at the house in Kaneohe, where the family still lives, when Jocelyn began dreaming about being the home run queen, thanks to the seed Levi planted.

“I remember distinctly, whenever I was like probably 10 or so, I think we’re watching Arizona play and someone had a home run and he was like, ‘You can be the home run champ one day,” Alo said. “That’s my guy.”

Oklahoma softball coach Patty Gasso (left) claps as slugger Jocelyn Alo heads to home plate on March 11 after hitting her 96th career home run in the Sooners' 11-0 win at Hawaii.
Oklahoma softball coach Patty Gasso (left) claps as slugger Jocelyn Alo heads to home plate on March 11 after hitting her 96th career home run in the Sooners' 11-0 win at Hawaii.

Passing Lauren Chamberlain

For Levi, the most improbable moment of Jocelyn’s journey came March 11, when Jocelyn hit career home run No. 96 — in Hawaii — to break a tie with former Oklahoma star Lauren Chamberlain to set the NCAA career home runs record.

“You couldn’t have planned it any better,” Levi said.

Levi knew travel would be a bit of an issue when Jocelyn committed to the Sooners.

“I don’t hate flying,” Levi said. “I just hate flying coach. I’m a big guy, so it’s not easy.”

Wednesday, on the eve of his daughter’s final WCWS, Levi was on the road once again.

This time, he was making the drive from Oklahoma to Austin, Texas, to pick up his wife and other children, who were flying from Honolulu.

Levi has spent most of the last two months following his daughter’s final journey with the Sooners, making just a short return to Hawaii.

Andrea Alo, Jocelyn’s mom, came for the Big 12 series with Texas and then flew back home, returned for the Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State Bedlam series as part of Jocelyn’s senior weekend, then returned to Hawaii before making the trip back in time for the WCWS.

“It’s just been crazy, but I’m lucky my wife knows what she’s doing when it comes to planning and stuff,” Levi said.

Just as Jocelyn has made it a point to soak in every moment along her final journey with the Sooners, so has Levi.

After Oklahoma's win over Central Florida last Saturday to clinch yet another WCWS berth, Levi sat out in the parking lot of Marita Hynes Field for several hours.

When the Sooners had their final practice at the stadium this week, he was there as well.

“Just enjoying it,” Levi said.

Levi's unique look

With an oversized T-shirt with his daughter’s picture on the front, Levi Alo figures to be hard to miss during the Sooners’ WCWS games.

Jocelyn, who came into the WCWS hitting .497 with 29 home runs and 72 RBI this season, is hard to miss because of her play.

Jocelyn, Levi and the rest of the Alo family plan on making the most of this final journey with Oklahoma.

“I know it’s a really long ride,” Jocelyn said. “But thankful that they are able to make it and just to share these experiences with me.”

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: WCWS: Jocelyn Alo's journey to college softball home run queen amazes