Oklahoma Softball: Alo reverses sophomore slump prior to postseason run

Jocelyn Alo is known for her power at the plate, but it’s her resiliency that will define her story.

Last season, Jocelyn Alo quickly became a superstar in the world of college softball. Tying the NCAA D-I home run record for a freshman will do that sort of thing. The NFCA named her a First-Team All-American as well as Freshman of the Year, and no one could stop the gifted slugger from Hau‘ula, Hawai‘i. However, things weren’t coming quite as easily at the beginning of 2019.

Though the season is not yet over, the 2019 Oklahoma Sooners are statistically and historically one of the most dominant squads the college ranks have ever seen. Riding a 38-game winning streak, there isn’t a true weakness on the team. Still, underneath all the run-rules and shut outs, Alo has been busy overcoming her own battle — the fabled sophomore slump.

Now it should be mentioned that not all slumps are created equal. With that in mind, what does such a thing look like for Jocelyn Alo? Well first you have to compare last season’s stats to today’s. A year ago, through 62 games, Alo recorded 73 hits, 72 RBI and 30 home runs on a .420 batting average. Contrast those figures with what she did through the first 36 games of this season: 39 hits, 29 RBI and 7 HR on a .361 BA.

Not only had her average taken a plunge, what made her freshman season truly remarkable was the sheer consistency of her hits going yard. Seven home runs through 36 games simply wasn’t what Alo expected from herself. As you’d expect, Patty Gasso also noticed something about her star player that wasn’t quite right, so she made the decision to give her some time off and hit the proverbial reset button during the Kansas series.

Alo’s first series back was Oklahoma’s top-10 matchup against Texas, and over that weekend she made the Austin crowd feel her presence with some emphatic plate appearances.

Whatever it was about that three-game respite, it certainly appears to have done the trick. In the 10 games since Alo returned to the lineup, she’s amassed 16 hits, 16 RBI and 7 HR all behind a staggering .571 BA. Doubling 36 games worth of homers in 10 contests is nothing short of incredible, but that’s just the kind of athlete other teams will now have to deal with going forward.

Following the Sooners’ mid-week matchup against Wichita State and weekend series at Iowa State, Alo was named Big 12 Co-Player of the Week. It was just the first time this season she received a weekly conference accolade. After helping her team win the 2019 Big 12 title last Saturday night, Alo opened up about the internal struggles she dealt with from weeks earlier.

“I was struggling in the beginning of the year, I’ll admit it. But now, after taking the Kansas weekend off, I’ve found myself again and started to have fun playing again, so it’s good just to see everything flowing again.”

From the looks of her two-run bomb against Oklahoma State on Sunday, she’s definitely back to her softball crushing ways. Who wouldn’t be having fun with ability like this?

When asked about what adjustments she made to her game to spark this offensive resurgence, the young Alo showed wisdom.

“I don’t think anything’s changed physically, it’s more so mentally. Everyone will tell you this game is 90% mental, 10% physical.”

Gasso described the changes she’s seen in Jocelyn since the KU series, saying she has a “completely different approach at the plate — completely different. She’s not stressing, not over-thinking, not trying too hard. Very loose, very fast, very confident.”

Overall, through 46 games in the 2019 season, Alo has 55 hits, 45 RBI and 14 home runs with a batting average of .404. The latter three figures all rank within the top five among the Big 12.

For a team that’s proven to be plenty loaded beyond the services of Jocelyn Alo, having No. 78 at her best would make for an even scarier Oklahoma team already revving up for what should be a deep postseason run.

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Source: Crimson and Cream Machine