Straight From The Bush: Campbell’s Alo has become a Boomer Sooner
JOSH GATELEY & TY RUSSELL / OU ATHLETICS
Former Campbell star Jocelyn Alo is making a huge impact as a freshman for two-time defending national champion Oklahoma.
Jocelyn Alo recalled some jitters the first time she stepped in against Oklahoma teammate Paige Lowary in practice last fall.
“She throws 75 (miles per hour) and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve never seen anything so fast in my life,’” Alo said of standing 43 feet from the All-Big 12 left-hander in a recent phone conversation.
Before long, pitchers — opponents’ and her own — would come to dread facing the Campbell graduate.
“Terrifying,” Lowary said of Alo’s power during a preseason press conference posted on the school’s web site in February. “All the pitchers are like, ‘I don’t wanna throw to her, you guys can.’”
After helping lead Campbell to back-to-back state titles, Alo has established herself as a fearsome presence in the middle of the lineup for the two-time defending national champion Sooners.
Alo opened her freshman season as Oklahoma’s leadoff hitter and homered in her third collegiate at-bat. She’s since settled into the third spot and has continued to produce at a staggering pace while melding into a roster that returned 16 letterwinners, including nine who earned All-Big 12 honors, off last year’s title team.
“I feel like it’s been a really good experience because I wanted to compete with the best of the best,” Alo said Tuesday. “Every day we come out and we challenge each other and we compete and it’s so much fun … and we get to a game and we’re like ‘Let’s go.’ ”
Alo, filling the designated player role, made her Big 12 debut last weekend and went 4-for-5 in 10 plate appearances against Texas Tech, with all four hits leaving OU’s Marita Hynes Field. She also walked five times, drove in 10 runs and scored six. She closed the Sooners’ sweep with two homers and six RBIs in a 19-1 rout on Sunday.
She was named Big 12 player of the week on Monday and added the Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association national player of the week award on Tuesday, becoming only the third freshman to earn a national weekly honor in Oklahoma’s storied history.
“It felt really good to know that all my hard work has been paying off, but I know I can’t settle here and I need to keep working hard for something even more,” Alo said.
Alo ranks eighth nationally with a .488 batting average and leads Division I in home runs per game (0.53). Last weekend’s surge pushed her slugging percentage to 1.134, also best in the nation, and she’s reached base safely in 20 consecutive games.
Alo has homered in her past five games, raising her total to 16 and tying for the third longest streak in NCAA history. She’s two short of the record as the Sooners (28-2) — ranked second in this week’s USA Today/NFCA poll and third in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 — head to No. 15 Baylor for a series starting Thursday in Waco, Texas.
The NCAA record for home runs by a freshman stands at 30, shared by Hawaii’s Kelly (Majam) Elms (2010) and Oklahoma’s Lauren Chamberlain (2012). OU coach Patty Gasso, an NFCA Hall of Famer, raised comparisons with Chamberlain, the NCAA’s all-time home run leader with 95, before Alo’s first collegiate swing. But for her part, Alo shrugs off such talk.
“I want to be just Jocelyn Alo,” she said.
Alo appears well on her way to crafting her own identity on a national scale, having made a quick adjustment to college pitching. The transition from Hauula to Norman, Okla., however, took a little time.
“It was hard, the culture shock,” Alo said. “It was a lot for me to take in, and obviously I can’t get poke at Foodland any more, so that sucked. But the team and the coaches really made it an easy adjustment.”
It’s also helped having family members visit during the year, including her father, Levi, who made the trip with a cooler stocked with poke and laulau.
“It’s good because none of the girls like it, so I don’t have to share with anyone,” she said.