After Patty Gasso addressed the team that the season was over due to the coronavirus pandemic, no one cried — there was just shock.
Gasso said seniors Gisele "G" Juarez, Nicole Mendes and Shannon Saile instantly reacted with the question:
“Will I get my eligibility back?”
The coronavirus took the country by storm, ending almost all of the sporting events taking place in the United States, and effectively terminated all college sports around the country. Gasso and the Sooners, along with the rest of the country, are facing unique complications in its wake.
For a team riding a seven-game win streak and a record of 20-4 that had yet to play at its best, the season ending like it did can be heartbreaking, but for this team it was a different reaction.
"And to kind of put our sport into perspective, as devastating and as heartbreaking as it is," Gasso said, "it's just truly what life is. It was shocking, it was shocking.
A big part of that is I feel so solid about this team, because they do get the big picture."
The NCAA announced that all spring sports participants will regain an extra year of eligibility due to the coronavirus, and Gasso announced that she expects OU’s three seniors to return.
However, the news of the seniors returning puts Gasso in a tough spot with the roster. Division I softball programs are allowed to give 12 scholarships per year, and adding three seniors along with the incoming recruiting class could make things crowded.
“The portal is going to light up like a Christmas tree because you have seniors returning,” Gasso said. “There's gonna be a lot of change, and it's gonna be probably — a lot of it's gonna be good. A lot of it's gonna be very tough to deal with.”
Beyond OU, teams across the nation will be struggling with large rosters.
“There's going to be some people that are trying to manage rosters that are 27, 28 (players),” Gasso said. “And it is not easy to keep a team of 28 athletes happy because you can only play nine at a time.”
With essentially a full year of experience for the current freshmen, the return of the seniors and the incoming class, Gasso could be looking at one of the deepest teams she’s had in terms of numbers and production, but it will also be a season that could test her as a coach.
“It's gonna be difficult, but whatever is thrown our way, we are ready to handle it," Gasso said. "And that's always been the way we've been.”