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Oklahoma’s Alo and Bahl Sweep Player and Freshman of the Year

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As one Oklahoma softball legend puts in place the final pieces of her legacy, the next is just getting started. 

The Sooners swept softball’s most prestigious individual awards for 2022, Jocelyn Alo winning USA Softball Player of the Year for the second consecutive season and Jordy Bahl winning NFCA Freshman of the Year. The awards were announced at the annual banquet for participants that precedes the start of the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. 

Alo Repeats as Player of the Year

Alo is the fifth player to win player of the year in back-to-back seasons, but the first non-pitcher to earn that distinction.  She joins Cat Osterman, Danielle Lawrie, former Oklahoma star Keilani Ricketts and Rachel Garcia as repeat winners (Osterman also won a third time in a non-consecutive season, the only three-time winner in the award’s history). 

A super senior, Alo broke former Oklahoma standout Lauren Chamberlain’s NCAA career home run record earlier this season, moving into first place while playing at a tournament in her home state of Hawaii. She currently has 117 career home runs, the only player to reach triple digits. 

This season, Alo leads the nation in slugging percentage (1.163) and on-base percentage (.634), ranks second in home runs (29) and batting average (.497) and third in RBIs (72). With one more home run, she will become the first player to hit at least 30 home runs in three different seasons. 

USF’s Georgina Corrick and Washington’s Baylee Klinger were also finalists. 

Bahl’s Brilliant Debut

Although the NFCA award is less than a decade old, Bahl is the fourth Oklahoma player honored. She joins Paige Parker, Alo and Tiare Jennings on the list. While Bahl hasn’t pitched since the final series of the regular season because of an arm injury, she is 21-1 with a 0.95 ERA, 199 strikeouts and just 29 walks in 132.1 innings this season. 

Bahl ranks fourth nationally in ERA. And while the injury, Oklahoma’s pitching depth and penchant for run-rule victories have cut into her potential innings, only USF’s Georgina Corrick pitched more innings among the five pitchers with ERAs under 1.00. Keeping pace with her newfound peers, Bahl also has as many starts as UCLA’s Megan Faraimo and just two fewer than Oklahoma State’s Kelly Maxwell or Florida State’s Kathryn Sandercock. 

Bahl edged out Arizona State’s Cydney Sanders and Virginia Tech’s Emma Lemley. 

Northwestern’s Danielle Williams also won the award as the nation’s top freshman in 2018, meaning the World Series will feature all four active winners. 

As No. 1 Oklahoma prepares to face Williams and No. 9 Northwestern on Thursday, Sooners fan need not worry about jinxes. While none of the first seven recipients of USA Softball Player of the Year won a national title in the same season as the award, four of the past eight winners followed with titles. That includes UCLA’s Garcia in 2019 and Alo a season ago. 

A Scholar Without Equal

The state of Oklahoma also produced the night’s other significant award winner, with Oklahoma State’s Jules Callaham honored with the Elite 90 Award for the second consecutive season.

The award is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA at each NCAA championship site. A junior from Broken Bow, Oklahoma, Callaham has a 4.0 GPA in animal science. She recorded her first career hit in March against Central Arkansas. 

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