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OU softball: Sooners celebrate record winning streak with sleep

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Caleigh Clifton (20) bumps fists with Shay Knighten (17) after Jocelyn Alo (78) and Clifton scored in the sixth inning of OU's 8-0 win against Texas Tech in the Big 12 softball tournament Friday at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]
Caleigh Clifton (20) bumps fists with Shay Knighten (17) after Jocelyn Alo (78) and Clifton scored in the sixth inning of OU's 8-0 win against Texas Tech in the Big 12 softball tournament Friday at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]

The longest single-season winning streak in Division-I college softball history wasn’t celebrated with a joyous dogpile or bottles of champagne waiting in the locker room.

The Sooners took a nap.

“I told them all to bring blankets and pillows,” coach Patty Gasso said outside OU’s locker room.

No. 1-ranked Oklahoma notched its 39th consecutive win Friday at the Big 12 Tournament, passing the 1997 South Carolina team for the longest string of victories in one season. Arizona holds the record for longest winning streak, 47 games, but the Wildcats accomplished the feat across the 1996 and 1997 seasons.

In between the tournament doubleheader against Texas Tech and Kansas — the second of which will await a Saturday result due to a rain suspension — came a 3 1/2-hour break. The Sooners relaxed in their locker room at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex.

Aside from the hard work of writing history, the Sooners had just completed final exams.

Giselle Juarez was dominant in the circle Friday afternoon, allowing just one hit while striking out 11 Red Raiders in five shutout innings. But a few hours before, she was on campus taking a final in musical theatre.

“Not anything different than throwing on a typical Friday during school,” Juarez said. “Especially because I got done early.”

OU also got done early. The Sooners run-ruled No. 4 seed Texas Tech 8-0 in six innings.

“I was honestly a little concerned coming off a long week of finals,” Gasso said. “How quickly can you shake that and the stress that comes with it?”

But win No. 39 came easily, following a common theme of the 38 before. It’s a streak that’s been glorified externally while, at least from the team’s comments, has been ignored internally. Players have shown no knowledge of the number as it rises week-to-week.

“It’s frustrating, because we’re fighting that,” Oklahoma State coach Kenny Gajewski said. “They’re maybe the best team I’ve ever seen, and I coached on a staff with some really good teams. They’re what I call Patty-tough.”

Gajewski was on Florida’s staff when the Gators won back-to-back national championships in 2014 and 2015, but as of Friday, what the Sooners have accomplished is unprecedented.

Saturday afternoon’s Big 12 title game will almost certainly be the fourth version of Bedlam. The Sooners outscored the Cowgirls 16-2 last weekend in a three-game sweep.

“You’re not matching their talent,” Gajewski told his team. “You’re gonna have to match their toughness … I don’t know that we can compete. It’ll be interesting. But we’re gonna show up, I’ll tell you that. We’ll meet ‘em at the gate.”

Related Photos
<strong>OU pitcher Giselle Juarez (45) screams after getting a strike out to end the top of the third inning Friday against Texas Tech. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]</strong>

OU pitcher Giselle Juarez (45) screams after getting a strike out to end the top of the third inning Friday against Texas Tech. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-3d3483a8f159f141e977fed5985932dc.jpg" alt="Photo - OU pitcher Giselle Juarez (45) screams after getting a strike out to end the top of the third inning Friday against Texas Tech. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] " title=" OU pitcher Giselle Juarez (45) screams after getting a strike out to end the top of the third inning Friday against Texas Tech. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> OU pitcher Giselle Juarez (45) screams after getting a strike out to end the top of the third inning Friday against Texas Tech. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-n_ea7d1b5f685aed10528fe11f2fd233ee.jpg" alt="Photo - Caleigh Clifton (20) bumps fists with Shay Knighten (17) after Jocelyn Alo (78) and Clifton scored in the sixth inning of OU's 8-0 win against Texas Tech in the Big 12 softball tournament Friday at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] " title=" Caleigh Clifton (20) bumps fists with Shay Knighten (17) after Jocelyn Alo (78) and Clifton scored in the sixth inning of OU's 8-0 win against Texas Tech in the Big 12 softball tournament Friday at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Caleigh Clifton (20) bumps fists with Shay Knighten (17) after Jocelyn Alo (78) and Clifton scored in the sixth inning of OU's 8-0 win against Texas Tech in the Big 12 softball tournament Friday at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Joe Mussatto

Joe Mussatto joined The Oklahoman in August 2018 to cover OU football, men’s basketball and softball. He previously covered University of Kentucky football and basketball for SEC Country. Mussatto is from Oklahoma City and lives in Norman. Read more ›

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