Ranking the top 30 players in Patty Gasso’s 30 years at OU

Ranking the top 30 players in Patty Gasso’s 30 years at OU

Patty Gasso started her 30th season at OU on Thursday so why not take a crack at ranking the coach’s 30 greatest players.

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

| Feb 8, 2024, 3:00pm CST

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

Feb 8, 2024, 3:00pm CST

(A version of this story originally appeared in Jenni Carlson’s newsletter. Subscribe here.)

Patty Gasso has started her 30th season at OU.

A long run, yes.

But it’s been every bit as successful as it has been lengthy. Seven national titles, including the last three with a chance at an unprecedented four-peat this season. A winning percentage of more than 80%. 

And get this, Gasso has coached players who have earned 41 first-team All-American honors.

Forty-one.

The Sooners are once again loaded with talent, so it seems like a good time to celebrate the excellent players Gasso has brought to Norman over the years.  As the curtain prepares to open on the college softball season — the Sooners open with Utah Valley at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge — let’s look back at the 30 best players of the Gasso era.

30. Erin Miller, 2013-16: Big 12 co-player of the year in 2016. Outfielder was the Sooners’ tone-setter as the lead-off hitter. Was part of two national championship teams.

29. Kami Keiter, 2002-05: The lefty workhorse departed as the program’s career leader in starts (136) and appearances (173). Pitched over 900 innings and struck out 733 batters.

28. Samantha Ricketts, 2006-09: Two-time second-team All-American. First baseman drove in 239 runs during her Sooner career, obliterating the program’s previous record (190).

27. Jill Most, 1994-97: Hard-throwing lefthander struck out 805 batters, one of only six OU pitchers to average more than eight Ks per seven innings. Two-time second-team All-American.

26. Leah Gulla, 2000-03: Stalwart at third throughout OU career, including as a freshman on 2000 national title team. First-team All-American, led Big 12 with a .402 batting average in 2003.

25. Lynette Velazquez, 1996-99: Gasso’s first first-team All-American. Also 1999 Big 12 player of the year. Hit 20 home runs as a senior, the first Sooner to ever reach that mark.

24. Jennifer Stewart, 1999-2002: 2000 Women’s College World Series MVP, giving up two runs in 23 innings and leading OU to its first national crown. First Sooner pitcher with over 100 wins.

23. Kristin Vesely, 2003-06: Outfielder also played on OU’s women’s soccer team. First-team All-American in 2006. Left OU as career leader in hits (293). Also had 62 career stolen bases.

22. Caleigh Clifton, 2016-19: 2019 first-team All-American and Big 12 defensive player of the year. Second baseman won two national titles. Finished OU career second in runs scored (234).

21. Kelli Braitsch, 2000-03: Started at shortstop from freshman year on. National champ in 2000. First-team All-American in 2001. Brash style gave edge to early WCWS teams.

Jun 10, 2021; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners pitcher Giselle Juarez (45) reacts after a strike out against the Florida State Seminoles during the first inning during game three of the NCAA Womens College World Series Championship Series at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Giselle Juarez (Rob Ferguson/USA Today Sports)

20. Giselle Juarez, 2019-21: Came alive in 2021 WCWS, going 5-0, allowing only four runs and leading OU to title. Finished career second in program history in winning percentage (.898).

19. Ashli Barrett, 1998-01: Big-hitting catcher was the first Sooner to hit more than 40 career homers (46). Two-time All-American who was first team in 2000 when OU won its first title.

18. Grace Lyons, 2019-23: Called the best shortstop Gasso coached. Won three national titles. Two-time All-American, including first-team in 2022 when she hit .401, blasted 23 home runs.

17. Heather Scaglione, 2002-05: Two-time first-team All-American. Splendid catcher was also a strong power hitter, leading the Sooners in homers in 2004 (16) and 2005 (14). 

16. Alyssa Brito, 2022-24: Big hitter. Stellar defender. Could rise in these rankings with another big season. Already won two national titles. Unanimous first-team All-American in 2023.

15. Lisa Carey, 1998-2001: Hit the game-winning homer in the 2000 national championship game. Three-time All-American. Reached the .400 mark hitting in each of her last two seasons.

February 24, 2017; Cathedral City, CA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners infielder Shay Knighten (17) hits a home run against the UCLA Bruins at Big League Dreams. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Shay Knighten (Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

14. Shay Knighten, 2016-19: “Big-play Shay.” 2017 WCWS MVP and Big 12 player of the year. Two-time All-American. Two national titles. Program top 10 in career hits (247), RBIs (197).

13. Kinzie Hansen, 2020-24: Another current player who could rise with another big season. Two-time All-American catcher. Three national titles. Career .388 batting average, 49 homers.

12. Norrelle Dickson, 2004-07: Three-time All-American. First Big 12 player with at least 300 hits, 200 runs, 100 stolen bases. First Sooner with a career batting average over .400 (.402).

11. Jessica Shults, 2010-13: Another three-time All-American. 2012 NFCA Diamond Catcher of the Year. Left ranking third in program history in home runs (61), second in total bases (464).

10. Amber Flores, 2007-10: Three-time All-American. Three-time finalist for USA Softball’s player of the year. Played a mean second base. Career .369 batting average and 56 homers.

9. Sydney Romero, 2016-19: Stellar third baseman. Two-time national champ and All-American. Graduated as program’s career leader in at-bats (853), doubles (58), second in hits (320).

8. Jordy Bahl, 2022-23: Despite a short OU career, won two national titles, twice was first-team All-American. WCWS MVP last year. One of two OU pitchers with a career sub-1.0 ERA (0.99).

February 24, 2017; Cathedral City, CA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners starting pitcher Paige Parker (8) throws against the UCLA Bruins at Big League Dreams. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Paige Parker (Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

7. Paige Parker, 2015-18: Ace on 2016, 2017 title teams. 2016 WCWS MVP. Second in OU history with 123 career wins, 968 strikeouts. Four-time All-American, Big 12 pitcher of the year.

6. Shelby Pendley, 2013-15: Arizona transfer became three-time All-American. Could play any position, including pitcher. Power hitter hit .430, .413 in last two seasons. 65 career homers.

5. Lauren Chamberlain, 2012-15: Became the sport’s home run queen. First baseman slugged 95 homers while also batting .395, slugging .960, driving in 254 runs. Four-time All-American.

4. Tiare Jennings, 2021-24: Already a three-time first-team All-American, three-time national champ. Slick infielder could make a run at several program records, including hits, RBIs.

3. Jayda Coleman, 2021-24: Already a three-time first-team All-American, three-time national champ. Slick outfielder could make a run at several program records, including batting average.

2. Jocelyn Alo, 2018-22: College softball’s home run queen and greatest hitter ever. Shattered Chamberlain’s record with 122 homers. Also NCAA career leader in total bases (761), slugging percentage (.987). Two-time USA Softball collegiate player of the year. Four-time All-American.

Jun 24, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners pitcher Keilani Ricketts poses with the Honda Cup womens athlete of the year trophy at the Collegiate Women Sports Awards at the Galen Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Keilani Ricketts (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

1. Keilani Ricketts, 2010-13: 2013 Honda Broderick Cup award winner, given to best female athlete in all of college sports. Two-time USA Softball collegiate player of the year. Four-time All-American. A prolific pitcher who also hit for power. Career wins (133) and strikeouts (1,605) rank first in program history while she’s one of only nine Sooners to hit at least 50 home runs.

The Gasso 30 honorable mention: Fale Aviu, Erin Evans, Paige Lowary, Brea Moore, Christy Ring, Brianna Turang.

 

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Jenni Carlson is a columnist with the Sellout Crowd network. Follow her on Twitter at @JenniCarlson_OK. Email [email protected].

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