Long Beach State '84
As she begins her 14th season at the University of Oklahoma, head coach Patty Gasso has molded the OU softball program into a national power and permanently placed herself among the elite college softball coaches in the country.
The Sooners have reached the Women's College World Series in five of the last eight years and, in the process, advanced to the postseason in each of her 13 seasons. The WCWS run began in 2000 when her team won the NCAA National Championship in OU's first appearance.
Gasso holds an overall record of 639-208-2 (.754) at the University of Oklahoma and continues to distance herself from her counterparts in the Big 12 and her predecessors at OU. She has won more Big 12 games (156-55) than any coach in the league's history and has doubled up every other coach who ever led the Sooners.
Gasso is coming off one of the best seasons in school history as she led the 2007 squad to a 55-8 overall record and a Big 12 Postseason Championship. In addition, Gasso led to the Sooners to a No. 1 ranking in the top 25 poll and OU advanced to its second NCAA Super Regional in three years.
Is she the best coach in the history of Oklahoma softball? Undoubtedly.
Is she the greatest coach in Big 12 history? The stats say she is.
Could she be one of the best coaches to ever coach college softball? Each season, she continues to build what is a very strong argument.
Currently in her 18th season as a head coach, Gasso has a career collegiate coaching record of 801-267-2 (.749). Gasso's Sooner teams have finished second or higher nine different times since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996. They have won 74 percent of their Big 12 contests and OU has claimed three Big 12 regular season and three tournament titles under her direction.
Numerous Sooner players have prospered under Gasso's tutelage and garnered national, regional and conference recognition. She has directed 27 All-Americans, 50 All-Midwest Region honorees and 87 all-conference selections. In the Big 12 era, five Sooners have been named Big 12 Player of the Year, two have been selected as Big 12 Freshman of the Year, one as Big 12 Newcomer and Lauren Eckermann was named OU's first Big 12 Pitcher of the Year in 2007. In addition, 2005 graduate Heather Scaglione was a two-time Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
The OU softball success under Gasso has also spilled over into the classroom where 68 individuals have earned academic all-conference recognition and six of those have gone on to become Academic All-Americans, including Lana Moran, the 2000 Academic All-American of the Year.
Gasso and her staff have consistently been recognized for their efforts on and off the field. The staff was awarded three consecutive Speedline/NFCA Midwest Region Coaching Staff of the Year awards from 1999-2001, received the national honor in 2000. Gasso and staff have claimed the Midwest honor in five of their 13 seasons with the most recent award coming in 2004. In addition, Gasso has been named the Big 12 and Midwest Region Coach of the Year in 1996, 1999 and 2000.
Gasso's career with the Sooners began in 1995 when she arrived at OU after five successful years at Long Beach City College. Her accomplishments during her tenure at LBCC and since led to Gasso being named to the LBCC Hall of Champions in 2004. Later during the 2004 summer, Gasso was inducted into the inaugural class of the Long Beach City Baseball and Softball Hall of Fame. Her success in her hometown of Long Beach set the foundation for a spectacular career in Norman.
In her first season at the helm, the Sooners recorded a 43-23 record, finished second in the conference and reached the regional final. Several Sooners received awards for their play during the 1995 season, including 11 players who garnered all-conference accolades (four on the first team).
Gasso and the Sooners reached new heights in 1996, recording a 50-20 record, a first-ever Big 12 Championship, and another regional final berth. OU dominated the inaugural Big 12 Tournament, putting five players on the all-tournament squad. Pitcher Jill Most was named the tourney MVP.
Gasso's 1996 squad also became the first team outside of the states of California or Arizona to win the prestigious Pony Tournament. Gasso was recognized by her peers for her team's performance, earning the Big 12 Coach-of-the-Year award. Again, Sooner players were mentioned as some of the league's best with 10 players receiving All-Big 12 recognition.
Gasso continued the trend of reaching new heights in 1997 when the team recorded the then-second best record in school history (55-19). The season was highlighted by two impressive 12-game winning streaks that helped the team to a second-place finish in the Big 12. For the fourth consecutive year, OU advanced to a NCAA Regional. It marked the first time in school history that OU hosted the event.
The 1998 season was probably one of Gasso's best coaching jobs. However, it wasn't because of the number of wins and losses or the tournaments won by the Sooners. It was due to the fact the team featured six freshmen. Gasso led the young group to a 49-15 record, a second-place conference finish and a No. 1 seed in a NCAA Regional. Five Sooners were named to the all-conference squad and three players were named to the All-Midwest Region team.
In 1999, Gasso led OU to its sixth straight NCAA regional playoff appearance and her team continued to demonstrate that she is one of the top coaches in the country. Along the path to the regional playoffs in Baton Rouge, La., the Sooners seized several awards and honors. For the second time in the three-year history of the Big 12 Conference, OU was crowned regular season champion. The Sooners, who finished with a 40-16 overall record, won the Big 12 with an 11-3 record.
Oklahoma fell just short of its goal, the Women's College World Series, but the Sooners proved once again that they were a national powerhouse. That year, OU defeated several top-25 teams including Louisiana State, Texas, Massachusetts, Oregon, Texas A&M, Missouri and Nebraska. In addition, the Sooners swept the four-game series with state rival Oklahoma State. The last victory against the Cowgirls in the regular season finale clinched the Big 12 title.
Not only were Gasso's players honored for their accomplishments in 1999, but she was also recognized for her solid coaching effort. Gasso was named the 1999 Big 12 Coach of the Year and joined her staff as the Midwest Regional Coaching Staff of the Year.
The 2000 Sooners won their third Big 12 regular season title since the league began in 1996 and hosted their first NCAA Regional since 1997. Behind an explosive offense and a dominant defense, the Sooners rolled to a 66-8 record and won their final eight games of the season to capture the first softball national championship in school history.
Four Sooners earned All-America honors, with Lisa Carey and Ashli Barrett earning first team recognition. Outfielder Erin Evans and pitcher Stewart were both third team All-Americans and Jennifer Stewart was named the Most Outstanding Player of the WCWS. The accolades rolled in as Gasso was named the Dallas Morning News Big 12 Coach of the Year. She and her staff also earned the Midwest Region Coach of the Year award and Speedline/NFCA Division I National Coaching Staff of the Year.
Following the 2000 National Championship season, Gasso's 2001 squad continued the string of success. The 2001 team went on to match many of the accomplishments of the previous year, including a return trip to the Women's College World Series, a 50-win season and four All-America selections. The team also established its own successes by compiling a school-record 23-game win streak and the program's first Big 12 Tournament title since 1996.
In 2002, Oklahoma went 49-16 and 14-2 in the Big 12. Taking their team motto "Triple Threat" to heart, the Sooners swept their third consecutive NCAA Regional and advanced to a third straight Women's College World Series.
The 2003 squad was led by five seniors and sophomore hurler Kami Keiter. OU reached its fourth consecutive WCWS by becoming the first Sooner squad to claim a regional championship away from Norman. OU ended the season with a 47-14 record and won one game before being eliminated from the 2003 WCWS.
Five Sooners were named to the All-Big 12 Conference first team including senior Leah Gulla, who led the conference in batting average, hits and RBI. Underclassmen Keiter, Heather Scaglione and Kristin Vesely joined senior Erian Evans on the all-conference team. The NFCA bestowed All-America honors on Keiter and Gulla, while Evans joined the duo on the Midwest Region Team.
The OU program reached a couple of milestones during the 2003 season. The program recorded its 1,000th victory when the Sooners knocked off Bethune-Cookman in its regional opener on May 15. Justifying its nickname, the Sooners also became the first Big 12 team to reach the 100-win mark in conference play. OU beat Nebraska, 1-0, in Lincoln on March 20, 2003, to be the first squad to reach the century mark.
The 2004 season went down as one of the most memorable in Sooner history. OU battled through injuries during the entire regular season and peaked at the right time. OU, seeded second in the NCAA Region I Championship, stormed through Tucson, Ariz., knocking off No. 1 Arizona and No. 9 Louisiana-Lafayette en route to the Sooners' fifth consecutive WCWS.
The Sooners entered the WCWS as the hottest hitting team in the postseason and held onto that recognition, despite being eliminated after winning their opener against Washington. Gasso's staff was recognized for a fifth time as the NFCA Midwest Region Coaching Staff of the Year, thanks to one of the most memorable postseason runs in NCAA history.
In 2005, the Sooners made their 11th straight NCAA postseason appearance under Gasso and claimed the Regional 14 Championship in front of the home crowd in Norman. Despite missing out on its sixth straight WCWS appearance after dropping a best-of-three series to Arizona in the NCAA Super Regional, the Sooners were one of the best hitting teams in program history (fourth in the nation with a .320 batting average). The highlight of the season was OU's record 29-game winning streak that spanned 36 days and was extended during play in five different states. The Sooners outscored opponents 218-40, run ruled 10 opponents and claimed five tourney championships during the streak.
In 2006, Gasso led the Sooners to their 13th straight 40-win season. The young Sooner squad made a strong postseason run, winning 12 of its final 15 contests while finishing second in the Big 12 Championship and advancing to the NCAA Regional Finals for the seventh consecutive year.
Gasso and her husband, Jim, reside in Norman with their youngest son, D.J (13). The couple's oldest son, J.T. (19) plays baseball at Eastern Oklahoma State University for former Oklahoma baseball player Aric Thomas.