When you can play your worst game of the postseason and still win comfortably, you know just how dominant this Oklahoma softball team has become.
"Worst" requires some level of context considering Keilani Ricketts only allowed three hits, two runs, struck out twelve, AND hit a home run. And Lauren Chamberlain hit a home run that still probably hasn't landed yet. But Oklahoma failed to capitalize on several other scoring opportunities that could have made the final score of 6-2 much more lopsided.
Much of the focus for OU's struggles Sunday night will fall at the feet of Shelby Pendley, who struggled both in the field and at the plate. So much so with regards to the latter that the Big 12's Player of the Year was pulled for a pinch hitter late in the game, although she was reinserted later defensively and finished the game at third base for the Sooners. Head coach Patty Gasso was quick to defend her stud transfer following the game and rightfully so after the year Pendley had, which one bad night surely cannot erase.
Shelby struggled a little bit. Just a little long with her swing, and the Washington pitcher is throwing gas. She's throwing the ball hard. So everybody needed to get a little bit shorter, go maybe a little bit lighter with their bats and Shelby just was a little bit long.
So I wanted to give somebody a chance that has a little bit shorter swing, and Javen has had College World Series experience. This is still a new experience for Shelby, and if this is something you have not had experienced before, it can be a little overwhelming, especially on a team like ours, playing third base, hitting third. I mean, it's a big, big deal.
The team is doing everything they can. Shelby helped get us here, and we know that; so we've got her back. She's going to be just fine and everybody's here to back her up because she helped make this happen. So it's just
continuing to keep her confident and stay aggressive. But sometimes, and these hitters can tell you, they have faced pitchers who just kind of got their number and they might have a tough night.
But the beauty of this game is tomorrow there is another day, and we start all over. We start all over, and she gets to start all over again. It's a new pitcher, new experience. So I'm not worried about it. It was something that we wanted to give Javen a crack at.
So now the Sooners advance to a familiar position in the championship series against an SEC opponent. Instead of Alabama, Oklahoma will face a Tennessee team who also advanced to the final with a perfect record.
The two teams are pretty similar when you break them down, with both having dual pitching aces and a balanced lineup with both speed and power.
It should be an excellent match-up with our Sooners obviously looking for some redemption after coming up just short last year in their bid for the program's first national title since 2000.