Year in Review: Softball
Top-ranked Sooners head strong into Big 12 Championship
The OU softball team looks poised to make it back after losing the final game in last year’s Women's College World Series, and this time, OU has the team to take home the title.
The Sooners (43-3, 11-1 Big 12) are the top-ranked squad in the land and have been for the majority of the season. Oklahoma’s three losses are an NCAA low, and the team is on pace to improve upon last year’s record.
It’s fair to say the Sooners have it all.
They have the top pitcher in the game in senior Keilani Ricketts — last season’s player of the year. And when she isn’t in the circle, fellow senior lefty Michelle Gascoigne has been just as dominant.
Gascoigne boasts a 0.93 ERA and has emerged as one of the top pitchers in softball this season. Ricketts, on the other hand, has tossed four no-hitters this year, a school record.
However, pitching hasn’t been the only thing to excite the crowds at Marita Hynes Field. The OU lineup has lit up the scoreboard. The leadoff hitter, sophomore infielder Lauren Chamberlain, leads the Sooner attack.
Before the season, coach Patty Gasso labeled Chamberlain as the best hitter she has ever seen. The first baseman has lived up to the hype. She is hitting .427 with 22 home runs.
Chamberlain is the first Sooner batter opposing pitchers face. She sets the tone and sets it hard.
Only in her second season, Chamberlain is on pace to break the Oklahoma and NCAA record for career homers. As No. 44 walks to the plate, the Norman crowd expects a deep ball every time; it often gets its wish.
Behind Chamberlain, the top of the order is loaded with power. Sophomore infielder Shelby Pendley has been the newcomer of the year for the crimson and cream. The Arizona transfer is nearly hitting .400 and is second on the team in home runs.
But it’s been the bottom of the lineup that has been the secret ingredient for OU.
Anchored by senior outfielder Brianna Turang, the seven-eight-nine-hole hitters have been the key to success for Oklahoma this season. They’re scrappy, they’re fast and they get on base. And when they do their job, they fill up the bags for Chamberlain at the top.
Yes, one of the top lineups in the game wears the same uniform as the best one-two pitching duo in softball.
The Sooners have it all.
With the Big 12 Championship almost within grasp, OU has its eyes on the ultimate prize: a national title.
Coming so close to a championship celebration last season in Oklahoma City has made OU hungry this year. The Sooners have bullied many of their regular season opponents. Run-rules, shutouts and double digit wins have become the norm.
This team is special, a collection of talent that feels as though it is second to none. It’s been 13 years since Gasso and Oklahoma won the biggest prize in the game, and it’s safe to say the Sooners are due.