On the soonersports.com website, Oklahoma softball coach Patty Gasso’s bio amounts to 3,899 words.
The Lincoln Riley bio on the same site: 1,379 words.
Gasso’s body of work — 25 seasons at OU, 1,248 wins and national titles in 2000, 2013, 2016 and 2017 — merits a 3,899-word review.
Her Oklahoma State counterpart, Cowgirls coach Kenny Gajewski, is among the more quotable figures in college sports. In four seasons, he has elevated OSU to a position of prominence both within the Big 12 and nationally.
Gasso and Gajewski are at the center of an incredibly compelling Bedlam competition this weekend. Any Bedlam clash is interesting — even when one side has pronounced advantages — but this is high-stakes Bedlam at its best.
As an unintended tribute to former Cowboys football coach Les Miles, who never took a step back when discussing Bedlam challenges, Gajewski issued a bold statement: “These are big games, and this is Bedlam and OU is the No. 1 team in the country, but we’re pretty damn good.”
The top-ranked, unbelievably hot Sooners softball team faces the surging, 12th-ranked Cowgirls in a three-game series scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday in Stillwater, 7 p.m. Saturday in Norman (televised on ESPN) and 3 p.m. Sunday in Stillwater (FSOK).
Entering the final weekend of the regular season, Oklahoma is 45-2, with a school-record 35-game win streak and a 15-0 record in the Big 12.
OSU is 37-11 overall and 13-2 in the conference. The Cowgirls ride into Bedlam with the momentum of an 11-game win streak.
On April 3, OSU was terrible during a 2-1 loss to UT-Arlington. “To come out here and lay an egg like we did — I’m just so disappointed,” Gajewski said at the time.
Oklahoma State hasn’t lost since that trip to Arlington.
In advance of the Friday game — the biggest regular-season game ever played at OSU’s Cowgirl Stadium — the challenge for Oklahoma State is clearly defined. Against an OU squad that hasn’t lost since Feb. 22, the Cowgirls need a three-game sweep to secure what would be their first conference title since 1995. It would be the OSU program’s first sweep of OU since 1993.
Through Gajewski’s four seasons, OSU has a losing record against OU and a winning record against every other Big 12 program. In advance of facing the Sooner juggernaut, the Cowgirl level of preparation is at an unprecedented level. Every morning this week, at 6 o’clock, players have convened for video study.
This is Gajewski’s message not only to the Tulsa World, but to his players: “I’m tired of losing to OU. I’m tired of not playing well against OU.
“It should be good, man. It should be a blast. We respect OU. They’re right here. We see it. We hear it. We know this is one of the best teams they’ve ever had, and that’s saying a lot. There’s a lot of hype before this series, and that it makes it feel even bigger.”
The mission statement of every Gasso team is a national title, but these Sooners have surprised their coach. Before the start of the season, Gasso admits that she didn’t expect a No. 1 ranking from this group.
“The senior class is just tremendous with what they’ve done since they walked in as freshmen,” Gasso explained. “They demonstrate with their actions what it should look like.
“We had such a great group last year with Paige Parker, Paige Lowary and Kelsey Arnold (a former Holland Hall star). We had great athletes. I looked at this season and thought, ‘OK, we’ve got new pitchers taking over. There will be a lot of newness.’ The new athletes jumped in and listened and surrendered their ego by saying, ‘Show me how to do it.’ It’s a very connected, respectful team that loves to play together.”
OU’s “new athletes” have thrived at the highest levels. The Sooners have the nation’s best team batting average and the second-best team earned run average.
Five of the Big 12’s top eight hitters are Sooners: Sydney Romero, Grace Green, Caleigh Clifton, Jocelyn Alo and Falepolima Aviu.
OU’s lefty ace Giselle Juarez is 20-0. During a 14-0 blowout of Iowa State last weekend, she recorded her second perfect game of the season. There were 15 batters faced and 12 strikeouts.
Matched with OSU, the Sooner advantages include a 92-65 edge in home runs, a .366-to-.307 edge in team batting average and a 1.21-to-2.59 edge in team earned run average.
“Both teams have a lot at stake,” Gasso said. “We both want to host (an NCAA) regional and a super regional. We both want to get to the World Series.
“Games like we have this weekend — they get you ready for all of that. Playing a tough opponent gets you that postseason feeling, and that’s really important.”
The three most recent of Oklahoma State’s 11 consecutive victories were recorded against nationally ranked Texas Tech, and in each game the Cowgirls won in dramatic fashion.
During that magic-carpet-ride of a weekend, OSU erased a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2, erased a 7-0 deficit to win 8-7 and erased a 5-3 deficit to win 6-5.
In that 6-5 game on Sunday, Samantha Show graduated to a greater level of stardom. A Cowgirl senior and transfer from Texas A&M, Show stepped up in the ultimate manner — with a three-run, walk-off home run. With 15 homers, she needs one more to become OSU’s single-season leader.
Gajewski is proud of his program: “You should come watch us practice sometime. I think you’d be blown away.”
But while Oklahoma State is building, Oklahoma already is built.
For the third consecutive season, the Big 12 regular-season title is determined by the outcome of a Bedlam series. In 2017, the Sooners won all three Bedlam games by a combined score of 12-2. In three victories last year, the Sooners outscored the Cowgirls 18-2.
If Oklahoma State can get even one victory this weekend, ending OU’s quest to break the national win-streak record of 47 set by Arizona in 1996 and 1997, it would be a huge achievement for Gajewski’s squad.
To get three wins would be highly improbable — but not completely impossible for a resilient, confident Cowgirls team. That’s the beauty of this Bedlam set.