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OU softball: 3 things to know ahead of Sooners' 2020 season

Oklahoma softball coach Patty Gasso, right, and player Jocelyn Alo talk to media during a preseason news conference in Norman. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]
Oklahoma softball coach Patty Gasso, right, and player Jocelyn Alo talk to media during a preseason news conference in Norman. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

NORMAN — Oklahoma opens its softball season Thursday in the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge in Mexico.

Here are three things to know about the Sooners heading into the 2020 season:

Former players on staff

There are a lot of familiar faces on Oklahoma’s coaching staff this season. Former players Sydney Romero, Falepolima Aviu and Shay Knighten are all student assistants. Kelsey Arnold is a graduate assistant, and Paige Parker is a volunteer assistant.

OU coach Patty Gasso enjoys having so many former players on her staff.

“It's going to be very impactful, but I get absolute joy looking at those guys every day, knowing that they're going to be in their own program one day very soon,” Gasso said. “So, they're going to be very good coaches. They're engaged with this team, and they're locked in with this team as much as they were when they were players. They really are rooting for these guys, and they're really trying to help every way that they can.”

Pitching staff additions

Oklahoma will have some new faces in the circle this season, but the Sooners’ pitching staff will be anchored by seniors Giselle Juarez and Shannon Saile.

The Sooners have several freshmen pitchers, and Gasso said she can see them having an impact, even if it is just pitching in a certain situation. Pitching will be by committee this year, Gasso said.

“I'm very excited to see these new freshmen,” junior catcher Lynssie Elam said. “We have three true freshmen and then Brooke Vestal. And then we have Giselle and Shannon, and they're all so talented. All have gotten better, so it's been a joy being able to catch so many different varieties of pitchers and just getting used to all of them and they're going to be great.”

Big freshmen class

The Sooners have eight freshmen this year, and some of them are expected to make contributions right away.

Oklahoma natives Rylie Boone and Mackenzie Donihoo are two freshmen Gasso expects to have in the lineup to start the season.

With so many new players on the team, the returning members have been working to make sure the team bonds before the season starts.

“I think the more you bond off the field it will show more on the field,” junior Jocelyn Alo said. “So just like upper classmen getting with freshmen like, 'hey let's go get lunch.' or 'hey let's go hit.'”

Abby Bitterman, Staff writer

Abby Bitterman

Abby Bitterman covers OU athletics for The Oklahoman. She joined The Oklahoman in September 2019 to cover high school sports. A Chicago native, Abby graduated from the University of Oklahoma in May of 2019 with degrees in journalism and political... Read more ›

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