Right when we thought the three-time defending National Champion Oklahoma Sooners softball team couldn't get any more impressive, they've invented a new way to catch softballs.
During an Oklahoma intrasquad scrimmage over the weekend, Sooners' infielder Tiare Jennings smashed a line drive that appeared to be headed into left field. That is, until Alynah Torres made a full-extension dive at third base, the ball nicked off her glove, and Sooners' shortstop Avery Hodge made a full extension dive of her own to snag the deflected ball right out of the air.
— NCAA Softball (@NCAASoftball) October 28, 2023
Not only was Hodge's catch — which was SportsCenter's top play on Friday — jaw-dropping, but she also hopped to her knees upon securing it and threw the ball to second base, in order to double off a baserunner who assumed (rightfully so) that Jennings' line drive was going to be a single. What's more, Hodge acted like the catch was just another normal play after making it. Perhaps she has invented new catches before.
? ??????, ?????? ?
— Oklahoma Softball (@OU_Softball) October 27, 2023
Hodge didn't just produce a top play, but her incredible grab might have also earned her a starting position on the Sooners.
Now that Grace Lyons — the Sooners' former shortstop, three-time All-American, and 2021, 2022, and 2023 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year — has graduated from the team, Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso must now fill the huge shoes Lyons left behind at shortstop.
Earlier this year, Gasso said of Lyons, "I've said it and I'll say it again until someone else comes along: she's the best shortstop I've ever seen. She's a complete player — offensively, defensively — she makes plays look so easy."
While one awesome catch doesn't guarantee a starting job, Hodge — who will be a sophomore in 2024, and mostly appeared as a pinch-runner for the Sooners last season— certainly made the snag look easy. Perhaps that's all Gasso needed to see in order to believe she's found her next shortstop.
Want More Sports News?
Get the biggest and best sports news sent directly to your inbox.