NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso is just happy to be home.
The Sooners (9-2) have already played nearly half their non-conference schedule before Friday's 5 p.m. home opener against Missouri State. They're ready to fix some of their mistakes in losses to No. 9 Arizona and Boston University. But more than that, they're just glad to be sleeping in their own beds, working out of familiar locker rooms and getting a chance to practice on their own field.
“It's just nice to put our suitcase away and not look at it for at least a couple of weeks,” Gasso said. “It's just exactly the right time. The idea of going out and traveling for a fourth straight weekend is something I don't want [to think about]."
One player said she didn't mind the travel is third baseman Sydney Romero. Her numbers back that up.
Romero leads OU with a .441 batting average, a .709 slugging percentage and 13 RBIs, while belting two homers and three doubles. She's struck out just once, her 14th in 481 at bats over three seasons.
“I'm enjoying watching everything about her,” Gasso said. “She's just locked in. Her power is up a little bit. She's not wasting any of her at bats. It's the Sydney I know, but I'm really excited to see where she goes with this.
“She's definitely on a mission to elevate her game.”
That sounds fitting for a player coming off a disappointing year, but for two seasons, Romero has been invaluable to OU. She's started 132 of 135 possible games, all at third base with a .961 fielding percentage. Offensively, she has hit .342 and driven in 98 runs.
So what is with all of this "on a mission" talk?
“I'd like to keep that to myself,” Romero said. “It's nothing I really want to share. I am on a mission. That's all there is to it.”
Even with eye-popping stats, Romero hasn't racked up individual awards. She was named All-Big 12 second team and All-Region second team in each of the last two seasons, but after making the USA Softball player of the year preseason watch list last year, she was left off All-American teams.
Her sister, Sierra Romero, who played her final collegiate season during Romero's freshman year, was a four-time All-American at Michigan. The elder Romero was named USA Softball's player of the year in 2016 and listed as the fifth greatest player of all-time by NCAA.com.
Known for her power, Sierra Romero blasted 82 home runs and had a career .881 slugging percentage before being drafted second overall by the USSSA Pride in the 2016 National Pro Fastpitch League. The Sooner laughed when asked if she's trying to chase down her sister.
“No not at all,” she said.
Still, it's no secret the younger Romero wants to add more power. It's part of the plan she and hitting coach J.T. Gasso have developed.
“One thing we've worked on, more so than anything, is not just putting it in play,” J.T. Gasso said. “We're focused on putting a good swing on good pitches. We're understanding how to attack on different counts and get what we want on other pitches.”
Follow me @john_mckelvey