OU softball report: Jayda Coleman’s glove remains a weapon

OU softball report: Jayda Coleman’s glove remains a weapon

OU's 5-0 weekend in Louisiana provided the latest evidence the center fielder’s sharp defense isn’t just reserved for the Women’s College World Series.

Eli Lederman

By Eli Lederman

| Feb 19, 2024, 12:00pm CST

Eli Lederman

By Eli Lederman

Feb 19, 2024, 12:00pm CST

(Eli Lederman’s “OU Week in Review” newsletter hits inboxes every Saturday morning. Subscribe here.)

The power of Jayda Coleman’s glove is no secret. 

We saw Oklahoma’s rangy center fielder make a lunging home run robbery against Texas in the 2022 Women’s College World Series clincher. Then we saw Coleman do it again on the night the Sooners wrapped up their third straight national title last spring. 

Two ESPN Top 10 plays in 366 days? Not bad.

As it turns out, Coleman can make a difference with her defense in February, too. Her latest pair of standout defensive plays were bookends to the top-ranked Sooners’ 5-0 weekend at the McNeese State-hosted Cowgirl Challenge in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

There were shades of Coleman’s WCWS heroics in Thursday against Central Arkansas. Nicole May was in the circle with a runner on base in the first inning when Coleman went full-extension for a run-saving grab on a potential gapper off the bat of Colleen Bare. 

The Bears never came closer to pushing a run across on OU (9-0) and Coleman went 2-for-3 at the plate and scored in the Sooners’ 9-0, five-inning victory.

Central Arkansas fell victim to Coleman’s defense again Sunday. This time, it was the fourth-year All-American’s arm that did the talking. 

Sooner right-hander Paytn Monticelli had worked into a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the first when Emma Veach ripped a liner to center field. Coleman ranged over for the catch, then fired to home plate to catch Tremere Harris tagging for the inning-ending double play. 

The throw was so good that it could be enjoyed from multiple angles

Coleman’s pair of outfield gems followed this diving grab from the opening weekend in Mexico. Her sharp start in center field beckons a few questions:

Is Coleman the best outfielder in college softball?

Is there anything she couldn’t get to in center field?

Does Coleman have more range than her fiance, OU safety Billy Bowman? And if so, how much more? 

These are the kinds of questions you ask about a team that’s won its last 62 games and about a center fielder who has turned defense into one of the most intriguing elements of college softball’s best team. 

First to third

1. Alyssa Brito is carrying the hottest bat in an OU lineup that’s powered 67 runs in nine games. The senior infielder has recorded a hit in seven of her eight games and begins the week leading the Sooners with a team-high .417 batting average, nine RBI and 25 total bases. Brito sits level with Tiare Jennings for the team lead in home runs (four) and runs scored (10). 

One of OU’s most sure-handed fielders has been perhaps the program’s best hitter through two weekends.

2. What a weekend for second-year left-hander SJ Guerin. The sixth arm in the Sooners’ six-deep rotation, Guerin didn’t pitch on the opening weekend in Mexico. But the event in Louisiana became the scene of Guerin’s college debut and the redshirt freshman shined in her first action in an OU uniform.

Guerin entered in the bottom of the fourth inning of Saturday’s win over McNeese State and retired both batters she faced, including a six-pitch strikeout of Samantha Mundine. On Sunday, Guerin followed by retiring all eight batters she faced with a pair of strikeouts over 2.2 scoreless innings to record her first career win.

All told, Guerin held opposing batters hitless over her first 3.1 innings in the circle. Let’s see if Guerin’s work in Louisiana earns her another opportunity this weekend in California.

3. Freshman Ella Parker only needed to see one pitch on Sunday. Pinch-hitting for Cydney Sanders, Parker unloaded on the first pitch she saw from Central Arkansas’ Julia Petty and sent her first career home run over the batter’s eye at McNeese State’s Miller Field, extending the OU lead to 7-0 in the third inning.

Alongside fellow freshman Kasidi Pickering, Parker has authored a comfortable start to her college career. She begins the week batting .368 with seven hits, six RBI and seven runs scored. 

One more thing

It’s Feb. 19, 2024. That means it has been officially one year since the Sooners lost a game.

In honor of the anniversary, here are the top five coldest takes in the replies to the tweet OU sent following the 4-3 loss to Baylor on Feb. 19, 2023: 

5.@allwatkins: “Maybe not dance around (the) mound in a circle and just start focusing on hitting the ball.

4. @hornsupchris: “(Brent) Venables cursed Oklahoma.

3. @ostatesteeler: “Take that L with your soft (expletive) schedule. Try actually playing some real teams outside Baylor and Washington. Jordy (Bahl) ain’t as good as she thinks.

2. @__nathan3: “Get used to posting this often when you join the SEC

1. @indigenous_w: “If Baylor can beat this OU team, so can the others.

In the 365 days since, OU is 62-0 with a Big 12 title and a third-straight national championship. I guess @__nathan3 could still be right about the SEC, but probably not.

Up next: The Sooners head west this weekend for a return to the Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, California, beginning with a 7:30 p.m. Friday matchup with Mississippi State. 

All five games in California will be streamed at FloSoftball.com.

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Eli Lederman reports on the University of Oklahoma for Sellout Crowd. He began his professional career covering the University of Missouri with the Columbia Missourian and later worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before two years writing on the Sooners and Cowboys at the Tulsa World. Born and raised in Mamaroneck, New York, Lederman grew up a rabid consumer of the New York sports pages and an avid fan of the New York Mets. He entered sportswriting at 14 years old and later graduated from the University of Missouri. Away from the keyboard, he can usually be found exploring the Oklahoma City food scene or watching/playing fútbol (read: soccer). He can be reached at eli@selloutcrowd.com.

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