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Michella Chester | | February 23, 2022

Lauren Chamberlain knew her NCAA softball home run record would be broken, and she's glad it's Jocelyn Alo

Lauren Chamberlain knew Jocelyn Alo would catch her NCAA softball home run record 'pretty early on'

Records are made to be broken. 

That's what they say right? But hitting more than 95 home runs in a collegiate softball career seems like a hard one to top. It takes a special kind of athlete, of course. Lauren Chamberlain was just that when she smashed her 91st home run in 2015, up against a ticking clock on her collegiate career, with a grand slam. It broke a 13-year record held by UCLA's Stacey Nuveman, and Chamberlain would tack on four more to end her stellar collegiate career. 

And now, record watch is on again, as another Oklahoma Sooner, Jocelyn Alo, is on the verge of breaking the record in an even shorter amount of time. Alo hit No. 95 last Sunday, in her 215th career game. She'll next have a shot at the outright record this weekend in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, Feb. 25-27.

Chamberlain knew from the very beginning it would be Alo who'd match her mark. 

"Right away. Right away. I knew it was going," Chamberlain told of when she realized Alo would take her top seat as the all-time home run queen. "No, it was just... I just knew. And I had had conversations with Coach Gasso, and I had seen her a little bit in the media when Jocelyn showed up. It was like... she's the real deal. She's gonna be the the future of this program."

So Chamberlain had some time to come to terms with it, and of course, it makes it much easier for her that it is Alo. Not only does the record stay in the Sooner family, but with someone Chamberlain cares for deeply. 

Of course, when they first met, their bond wasn't instantaneous. Alo described the moment they were introduced in Palm Springs her freshman year as a "fangirl moment," and Chamberlain described it as "yes, you're gonna be really good. This is exciting... (but) I don't even know who you are."

But as time went on, the relationship evolved. Right now they sit together at the top of the career home run record book, with 95 bombs apiece. But the connection is deeper. 

"As we went on and just seeing what she was capable of and just the path that she was forging for herself. I knew we were going to meet up at the end," Chamberlain said. "So when you witness a player like that... and I'm getting chills right now talking about it... when you witness a player like that and you see the similarities between your journeys, you just gravitate towards each other because again, nobody understands the moment like each other. So you just form this bond whether you want to or not."

Chamberlain said they share similarities in their "regular life." Their senses of humor align, how they operate and how they are as friends. I mean, it makes sense, right? Two people capable of such a monstrous achievement likely would have similar minds. And they do, in fact. It takes more than physical ability to send 95 softballs over the fence. Softball is a game of the mind, too. 

Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso said the biggest thing she sees in both sluggers is you wouldn't be able to tell the difference if they had just hit four home runs or struck out four times in a row. She noted how Jocelyn could achieve anything she set her mind to, recalling her dislocating her opponent's shoulder in high school to win the state wrestling title. 

💣 ALO BOMB: Watch Alo's OU single-season record homer from last year's WCWS

Chamberlain feels nothing but pride as she waits for her record to be broken. She said it's not even bittersweet, just pride. Pride for her softball program, pride for the sport and pride for Alo. If anything, this week has been bringing up all the memories from the year she broke the record. The anticipation, the burden, the excitement, the slumps (minor at best) — the memories to cherish forever, and the types of memories she is so thrilled to watch Alo experience first hand. 

For Chamberlain, she recalls the "burden" as the record approached. And not just for her, but for her entire team. The story is front and center, with teammates wearing GoPros in the dugout ready to capture the moment in history. Chamberlain said she was so ready to break it and then move on from it, and she wants that for Alo as well. 

"As much as it's a burden on us and the player and what I went through and what Jocelyn is going through it's also just everybody around that has to deal with it," Chamberlain said. So again, it's it's getting that burden off of yourself but also taking it off of the team.... 'let me just get this thing done so that we can move on.'"

Even though Chamberlain will now pass the torch, the crown is not going far. Even as the game has changed and evolved, Oklahoma's prolific offense has remained through the years. Chamberlain recalled her time under hitting coach Tripp MacKay, now head coach at Kennesaw State.

"When I was at OU and we had a certain philosophy.... it was down pat with what the goal was. And then Coach JT Gasso comes in, Patty's son, and has a different approach, but it's still works," Chamberlain said. "So it was kind of cool to see the styles of hitting, the two approaches be very successful in both ways."

She hinted that their success might have a little less to do with the physical aspect, and its more about powerful coaching and powerful players on the same page. After all, Alo said in a Zoom with media on Tuesday, she always looked up to Chamberlain, but she has always been a fan of her own swing.

It brought her here. One swing, and one bomb away from breaking the NCAA Division I softball home run record. One swing away from taking the top seat from another Sooner legend, and friend, in Chamberlain. And now, the two will be back in Palm Springs this weekend. Instead of a fan girl moment for Alo, she could make history, and Chamberlain will be in the stands to watch it all. 

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Division I
Softball Championship
June 1-9, 2023
USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium | Oklahoma City, OK

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