Oklahoma won a Super Regional at Arizona last season to advance to the Women’s College World Series. This year, the Wildcats visit Norman for a Super Regional, which begins with Game 1 Friday at 1 p.m.
“We’re not even looking back at last year,” Gasso said. “That might be their motive, but it’s a new team. It’s a completely different journey.”
But she did take time near the end of her news conference to reflect on the respect she has for Arizona’s program, and how that respect helped her build her own.
During Gasso’s first season in Norman (1995), her Sooners faced Arizona six times and lost each game in embarrassing fashion: 12-1, 8-2, 7-0, 13-5, 19-1 and 11-3.
The next year, the Sooners and Wildcats played three times; Arizona won 10-0, 10-0 and 2-1.
“I modeled my program, honestly, after Arizona when they would absolutely hammer us and humiliate us when I was a new coach,” Gasso said.
“We got absolutely annihilated over and over and over again. I would look at that team and say, ‘Those are women, and we are girls. Where do I find these women?’
“And I understood that it was all about recruiting. I learned it through them and being beaten to a pulp by their team over and over again.”
She said she thinks her biggest win as OU’s coach came in 1998, when the Sooners won at Arizona 4-3.
“It was all of the sudden turning our program in a new direction,” she said. “Now that you beat Arizona, recruits are going to look at you a little more.
“I absolutely respect (Arizona) because it’s helped me become better; a better recruiter, a better coach and a better competitor.”