Oklahoma held a national championship celebration Saturday night at Marita Hynes Field, giving fans a chance to celebrate the Sooners’ fifth title.
After being upset in the first game of the Women’s College World Series by James Madison and falling to the losers’ bracket, OU shut down Georgia and defeated the defending national champion UCLA to move on to the semifinal round. The Sooners then knocked off JMU, beating the Dukes twice to advance to the national championship series against Florida State.
The Seminoles got the better of Oklahoma in game one, 8-4. However, the Sooners won two-straight games by a margin of four runs each, defeating FSU in the championship series.
Here’s what OU President Joseph Harroz, athletic director Joe Castiglione and head coach Patty Gasso said at the celebration:
Harroz on Sooner fans and the team’s record season
“This is a season of the ages. … This is such an incredible occasion, and ordinarily I would just sit here and speak from the heart, but you all are the heart. I’ve sat around the family and friends and watched their love for all of you players and coaches through all of these tournament days. You’ve heard a couple of the statistics, but way better than the words that I can provide is to walk through those things that are indeleble, those things that are going into the record books that will stand for the ages.”
Harroz on Gasso
“She’s taught all of us, not just her players, what a championship mindset is, and she’s taught us how winning the right way, how winning for the right reasons, how all of those matter more than anything else. She has taught us, she is part of us. We love you and we are so proud of you Coach Gasso.”
Castiglione on the Sooners’ gratitude
“The numbers are staggering, but the story behind what it took to make those numbers is one that history books will write about forever — it’s amazing.
“There is one of many, many values and characteristics that this team shows us time and time again, and that’s their gratitude. Gratitude for each and everything that they encounter, and each and every person that crosses their path.”
Castiglione on the challenges of the season
“You don’t really talk about overcoming adversity when you have a team that just won a national championship ... but this year the pandemic that we’ve all been working through … the challenges that we faced. … Everybody’s creating all kinds of ways to try and engage student athletes at times when information was little to not available.
“This team was resilient under every single circumstance, and I think that would prove to be something that they could count on as the season went along.
“As we’ve seen and heard, history has been rewritten, and it takes so many special leaders. I dare say that every single person on this team and in some ways behind the scenes, served an important leadership role throughout this year to help make things happen.”
Castiglione on Gasso
“If there’s ever been a model of consistent leadership, (Gasso) is the gold standard in every single way. It’s not just that this team has won championships, set records, been ranked in national polls each week, each month, each year for twenty six straight years, it’s (Gasso) and staff that create a positive atmosphere around every single thing that we do.
“It doesn’t get said enough, it really doesn’t. This leadership is extraordinary. People look at our program. … It’s a special place to come and compete and pursue championships, that’s very special. What we see and hear from every one of the freshmen each year when we talk to them, what made you come to Oklahoma? What drew you? What excites you about being here? They say it’s the relationships.”
Gasso on Sooner nation
“I want to start by praising you fans. … The world series was a whole other sound we have never heard before. I overheard one of these players, they said that it felt like we’re on the sideline of an OU football game. We appreciate you more than you know”
Gasso on super seniors and playing through COVID-19
“Four hundred fifty-five days ago I had to look at Giselle, Shannon and Nicole Mendes and tell them I’m not sure that you’ll ever play here at OU again because this season is over. There was anxiety and a lot of uncomfortable athletes here not knowing what was going on. Thank you Lord that we got an extension for our super seniors.
“We played with masks, we had constant COVID testing, again a lot of anxiety. It was really unsettling and kind of nerve wracking, but I so appreciate this team and their commitment to this sport, commitment to wanting to play and making very good decisions.
“Thank you Nicole Mendes, you have my heart. Giselle, you have my heart. Shannon, you have my heart.”
Gasso on the importance of the Georgia loss
“We had to get a loss there. We needed a loss there. We didn’t deserve the win, but we felt what it felt like to be in a full-capacity stadium under pressure, that was needed.”
Gasso on the team’s fight
“This team, they’re like an engine with cylinders firing. Every one of them has a part in what we’re doing. Whether they’re hitting it out, whether they’re in the dugout picking a pitchers’ pitch. Whether they’re calling for a bunt, whether they’re playing great defense — everyone had a part in this.
“They knew how to get here, but there’s so many things I don’t need to share, you can ask them, so many things happened off this field that was life changing for them. Their faith, their fight and finally their finish. A fifth national championship for this team.”
Editor's note: This article was updated at 10:26 p.m. to correct the spelling of Joseph Harroz's name in the headline. The Daily apologizes for this error.