By Maren Angus
Oklahoma University head coach Patty Gasso was asked about the possibility of a three-peat following the 2017 Women’s College World Series. She laughed it off.
Oklahoma entered this season ranked No.1 and after five games at the Grand Canyon Kickoff Tournament in Phoenix, the No. 1 rank is still intact.
The Sooners lost one senior to graduation following its second consecutive National Championship and have turned to freshman Jocelyn Alo to fill the void.
Alo is a natural fit for a championship-winning program. She won a state title with Campbell High School in Hawaii and was a state champion wrestler.
She is a power-hitting, right-handed batter who is drawing comparisons to Lauren Chamberlain but according to Gasso, she might have more pop than the NCAA’s all-time home run and slugging percentage leader.
“Anybody that knows Lauren Chamberlain knows that Alo is that kind of hitter and she can change the game in one swing,” said Gasso following the Sooners’ first game at GCU. “We want you to see her first because it’s going to make you very uncomfortable. She sends a message with her swings.”
In her first collegiate at bat against Weber State, Alo lead off, singled and stole second. In the bottom of the fifth, she launched her first home run over the left field wall. She went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two runs batted in to lead the team.
“That was good. That was really good,” said a giggling Alo about her first career homer. “I thought it was going to be a line drive off the wall and it went over so I was like, ‘Oh, wow!’”
Hitting in the top spot of the lineup isn’t new for the 5-foot-8 utility player. She hit leadoff a few times in Hawaii and had to time to process it when Gasso told her she was hitting that spot.
“Hitting leadoff is different. I’m normally a four-hole hitter but I’m playing,” Alo said. “I don’t really like to think about it too much. I don’t want to get in my own head so I just do my work and trust that my coaches made the right decision.”
The strength of Alo was on full display with every ball she made contact with, but jaws dropped in the fourth game of the weekend against Grand Canyon when cleared the netting that stands 12 feet tall behind the outfield wall. The exact distance isn’t confirmed but it cleared the street and landed on the intramural soccer field.
“I think she settled in really well,” said Shay Knighten, last year’s WCWS Most Valuable Player. “You could tell she was nervous but once she got in that box she knew what she was wanting to do. To see her do what she does in practice was really cool because you wouldn’t ever think she was a freshman.”
Alo finished the weekend with a .412 batting average. She was 7-for-17 with two homers, a double, six runs scored, four RBI, two strikeouts, three walks and a stolen base.
She didn’t stay at the top spot all weekend as Gasso stayed true to her gut and tinkered with the lineup to get the offense going. Nothing is certain yet but it wouldn’t be a surprise if she has the freshman return to the top spot.
Alo and the Sooners return to the field this weekend at the Troy Cox Classic in Las Cruces, New Mexico, against Ball State, New Mexico State (twice) and Boston University.
“It’s fun to watch her come to the plate because anything historic could happen,” Gasso said. “She still has a lot to learn. People are going to try to pitch around her and she has to recognize that… the more I can get her to see live pitching, the better, but she’s going to be one of the best.”