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"That's what championship teams do": OSU still outmatched by OU, Bahl

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Kenny Gajewski

Head coach Kenny Gajewski 

Kenny Gajewski peeked over at the opposing dugout and understood.

In the midst of a 13 pitch at bat between OSU starting pitcher Kelly Maxwell and OU third baseman Jana Johns, Gajewski, the Cowgirls coach, saw the difference.

With a sold out crowd of over 1700 in the OU Softball Complex, the crimson outfield wall of the stadium decorated with five national championship artwork and the Sooner dugout on the brink of insanity, you could tell the difference, especially with the countless “Boomer Sooner” chants from the OU faithful.

When Johns barreled a pitch from Maxwell to center field for a single, Gajweski, after taking in all the information around him, thought to himself:

“When (Johns) was fouling those pitches off, their dugout was fighting with her, and that’s what championship teams do,” Gajewski said. “I was watching their dugout and it’s something we need to take note of.”

The discrepancy between the two programs showed on the biggest stage. Despite both teams being ranked in the top 10 in the country, the No. 1 Sooners showed why they are the best team in the country, and why they are a league ahead of even the No. 7 Cowgirls.

Johns’ hit signaled the beginning. OU scored four runs in the bottom of the third inning against a pitcher listed as a finalist in the national player of the year race, on their way to defeat OSU 7-1.

The Cowgirls hasn't defeated the Sooners in Norman since 1997, when Gajewski still worked as OU's turf and field maintenance director.

The streak did not break on Thursday night, and it didn’t help when in the circle for the Sooners was freshman phenom pitcher Jordy Bahl.

Bahl exited the dugout during the pregame team announcements with black face paint streaming down from just below her eyes down near her chin. Even though Thursday kicked off OU’s celebration of seniors such as Jocelyn Alo, Grace Lyons, Lynnsie Elam, Taylon Snow and Johns, the true freshman stole the show.

OU’s ace, former No. 1 recruit in the country, rocked a 0.96 ERA and 21-1 record as a starter in 2022, pitched six innings, only allowing one run and did not walk a single Cowgirl batter in her start. Bahl’s energy and competitiveness in the circle represents the dominance of OU softball, and her command of the game from the circle even surprised Gajewski, who could only look on in appall.

“She’s competitive and has good stuff,” Gajewski said. “Her changeup was more devastating than I thought. Hopefully we get another chance at her.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com