The ball leaves the bat and sounds like thunder. ESPN’s Beth Mowins touches God and screams, “Absolutely destroys that one!” And the optic yellow pill highlights the Oklahoma sky. Inevitability has reared its head once more as Her Majesty, Jocelyn Aloha Pumehana Alo, the Queen of Home Runs, rounds the bases again. Way back. Out of here. Gone.
From the sands of Hau’ula, Hawaii, to the plains of Oklahoma, she is the oncoming train, the slamming door, the good night. Here to treat the ball with hostility, to bring a defense to its knees. If you need her, she’ll be right over there belting pitches to the stars.
Her Royal Highness, the Crowned Empress of Bombs, Alo’s resume is the kind of gnarly where at a certain point the amount of achievement is so overwhelming that you just start laughing. Her bona fides are many. Tape-measure blasts begat tape measure CVs. The type of generational athlete that inspires graphics like this.
The numbers: 120 career home runs (the most in NCAA history for softball or baseball), 320 career RBIs (third most in D-I history, eight shy of no. 1). She’s the first player in D-I history to hit 30-plus home runs in three different seasons and is the back-to-back USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. Her 40-game hit streak from February 2020 to April 2021 is the second longest in NCAA history, and she once hit a home run in seven consecutive games, tying another NCAA record. She’s a three-time first team All-American, appeared thrice on the Women’s College World Series All-Tournament Team, and won one WCWS championship. The raw numbers from this season are just silly: Over the course of 60 games she’s hitting .509 with 32 HRs and 82 RBIs.
Those are ridiculous, but doubly so when you consider that she was periodically getting the ’01 Barry Bonds treatment. Once Alo tied the career home run record, teams were so intent on not being a historical footnote that they just started pitching around her. Some of the walks were intentional and some weren’t, but over the course of the next eight games she was walked a total of 18 times. Alo is no stranger to being feared. She’s been terrorizing opposing pitchers since she first picked up a bat. She estimates she had around 50 consecutive walks during her senior season of high school ball. “Pretty much the whole season from beginning to end I got walked every single time. I even went up left-handed and they still walked me,” she told The Oklahoma Breakdown podcast.
In the end, all those walks led her home, to one of the true storybook moments in sports history. Oklahoma had scheduled a two-game series against Hawaii in Honolulu this past spring and on the night of March 11, with the Sooners up 7-0 on the Rainbow Wahine in the top of the sixth, Alo launched another record breaker into the distance. She rounded the bases a princess no more, the noise coming huge from the stands, an ocean of loved ones roaring for their queen.
ALOHA HISTORY— NCAA Softball (@NCAASoftball) March 12, 2022
What a moment for @78jocelyn_alo, as she hit her 96th career home run, breaking @LChamberlain44's NCAA record, in front of her hometown fans in Hawaii. #NCAASoftball x @OU_Softballpic.twitter.com/Btm09ejSip
Spectacle does not guarantee substance, but when the two meet it’s a blockbuster, something everyone must see. Step right up, folks. Come one, come all. Watch her hit it to the clouds.
She steps into the box with a bat and a problem. Her problem is the ball is on the wrong side of the fence and it’s high time that pretty piece of polyurethane gets back where it belongs. She hits with the type of power that makes people say things like “smoothly violent,” destructo, Bonds. She’s in her Pac Bell Park phase—been there for a minute—her subjects on dinghies in McCovey Cove, awaiting gifts from their sovereign leader. She takes BP and Normanites start reporting UFOs.
One swing to rule them all. Banishes softballs to deep space. Terminates pitches with extreme prejudice. The Sultana of Boom. Uncorking long-distance dedications to vehicles on neighboring highways. Oklahoma’s 15-0 semifinal victory over fifth-seeded UCLA this past Monday was the largest win in Women’s College World Series history. “Sticks are hot right now,” Alo told ESPN’s Holly Rowe after the game. Sticks are scalding. The Sooners don’t swing bats, they swing blowtorches.
Comps for their offense are hard to come by. You have to venture into the world wonders to do the lineup justice. Either that, or venture off the planet altogether. The Monstars from the original Space Jam only, you know that moment in the first half when the scoreboard starts to sort of slot-machine nonstop? With the Oklahoma offense that can feel like the whole game. They make the scoreboard spasm. Alo bullied the ball every which way against the Bruins, tying the WCWS record for RBIs in a game with 7. She went 4-for-4 with 2 home runs. The first was the moonshot in the top of the second inning. The second was a grand slam sent packing over the wall in left-center field. Alo’s comps are Niagara Falls and avalanches. Also, dragons.
And now it’s back to the championship of the WCWS. Oklahoma will play Texas, a team who gave them one of their three losses this season, a loss Alo and the Sooners would later avenge. Game 1 is Wednesday night. Best two out of three. The Red River Rivalry for real deal rings. Hall of Fame Stadium will be a tinderbox. Alo will try to get one more piece of jewelry before her college career comes to an end.
In late October 2021, some four months after Oklahoma’s Hall of Fame head coach Patty Gasso picked up her fifth natty, it was announced the University of Oklahoma would be building a new softball stadium. The $27 million Love’s Field is scheduled to open ahead of the 2024 season. It will seat 3,000 fans and house a 10,500-square-foot indoor practice facility. The new digs are well deserved and long overdue. The University of Oklahoma has a penchant for putting up statues of their athletic legends. Alo should have one out front, right next to Gasso’s.
“I was asked ‘How do you handle all of it?’” Alo told me. “And I’m just going to embrace it for what it is because one day people won’t remember my name and people won’t know who I am so I’m just going to embrace it for what it is now and just continue to run with it.”
Alo says this sincerely. There are precious few athletes that come along who you know you’ll tell your grandchildren about, few athletes that bring with them the kind of dominance, the kind of inevitable devastation that makes people say, “Well, I won’t forget them.” Alo is one. Those of us who saw her swing, if one day we should be out somewhere with a friend and Alo walked by, those who saw her swing would nudge their friend and say, “There goes Jocelyn Alo, the greatest hitter the game’s ever seen.”