How Oklahoma Sooners’ Jocelyn Alo, Facing Elimination, Found Another Gear
OKLAHOMA CITY — Monday could have been Jocelyn Alo’s last as a collegiate softball player.
The top-seeded Oklahoma Sooners dropped Game 1 against the UCLA Bruins, putting the nation’s wire-to-wire No. The nation’s wire-to-wire No. 1 team is at the brink of elimination.
Unbothered by the stakes, Alo ensured her team’s stay in Oklahoma City was not going to be cut short.
The most explosive hitter in the history of college softball delivered with her back against the wall, hitting 4-for-4 and driving in seven RBIs by way of a three-run bomb and a soul-crushing grand slam in the Sooners’ 15-0 victory over UCLA.
Clearly, the pressure of the moment never fazed Alo.
Headed into the contest, the Sooners slugger said she was solely focused on the scouting report and game plan to attack UCLA’s pitching staff.
“Just controlling the strike zone and just kind of not trying to be a big hero in those moments [was the plan],” Alo said after the second contest. “Especially when your back is against the wall.
“Just going out there and just continuing to play our game.”
Jocelyn Alo hit a pair of towering home runs on Monday
The super senior punctuated Oklahoma’s dominant win on Monday with a grand slam
With the victory, the Sooners advanced to the WCWS championship series for the third straight year
Gasso said she didn’t notice anything different about her star in the dugout, either. Alo brought the same passion to every contest.
“She gets so fired up for her family, for our team,” Gasso said. “She’s the most confident young woman I’ve ever met,” Gasso said. It’s her favorite thing.
“It’s not to kind of stick it in anybody’s face, it’s more about her excitement. She’s just really raw with excitement and love for the game, and her exuberance just is fun to watch.”
UCLA head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez had a front-row seat to Alo’s dominant performance, and all she could do was tip her visor to the OU star.
“It’s just impressive,” Inouye-Perez said after the doubleheader. “The strength factor” is one thing. There are many types of hitters. Some have great hands, while others have strong hands. She has both. She has the ability.
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“I got a straight view of her home run, and I’m, like, ‘Oh, that’s going to–please let it tail foul.’ And, unfortunately, it didn’t.
“Just a lot of respect for her. She is a great hitter. She is a strong girl. She has great hands. She’s tough and performs well on stage. … Clearly, there’s a reason why she’s the Player of the Year.”
Alo’s seven RBIs tied the Women’s College World Series single-game record set by Washington’s Niki Williams back in 2009.
With 10 RBIs total at the WCWS, Alo sits just one behind the all-time record set by UCLA’s Andrea Harrison back in 2010.
But in Patty Gasso’s summation, Alo’s impact on the sport goes well beyond helping the Sooners reach their third straight WCWS championship series.
“I think Jocelyn Alo is a big reason why this sport has gone to another level,” Gasso said. “People come to see her like she’s Babe Ruth ..” They pay to see Jocelyn Alo and… I hope we see another Jocelyn Alo.
“I hope she’s a Sooner when we see her, but that’s how she–she has a love for the game, a confidence. It’s not about being around it, but to see it and to be around it, it just bleeds over to our team. They all want a little piece of what Jocy has.”
Alo’s career will end one way or another by the time the dust settles on Thursday or Friday night.
And regardless of if she goes out a two-time national champion or not, Alo’s name will be remembered for years to come.
“It’s been such an honor [to coach her],” Gasso said. “[Alo] would like to be independent and leave her mark. She keeps repeating, “I want to leave my marks.” ‘
“She’s left her mark. She has done it. Right now it’s just icing on the cake for her.”
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The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.