Pendley Leads Oklahoma Softball’s Sweep of Iowa State

Pendley Leads Oklahoma Softball's Sweep of Iowa State

Arizona transfer Shelby Pendley said she is “seeing the ball well.” For University of Oklahoma softball opponents, that means trouble. The latest opponent to find that out was the Iowa State Cyclones the weekend of April 25-27 in a three-game series against the No. 1 ranked Sooners.

Pendley, who played fall ball at Arizona before transferring to OU, drove in 12 runs during the three-game sweep as OU increased its record to  43-3 and its Big 12 record to 11-1. Friday’s first game was a laugher, 24-1, Saturday  OU won in a run-rule 9-0 and Sunday OU prevailed 12-0 in another run rule. Standing room only crowds attended the three game series, which drew 3,832 people, with a  record 1,433 attending Friday night.

OU swept Iowa State by a combined score of 44-1. All three games ended in the fifth inning, marking the first time in program history that OU won three games in a row within Big 12 play via run rule. The Sunday game was a no-hitter by OU pitcher Keilani Ricketts. For Ricketts, it was her fifth career no-hitter and fourth of the season, breaking ties in each category with former Sooners pitcher Lauren Eckermann. Ricketts struck out 10 and walked two with one hit batter as she improved to 24-1 on the year.

“I feel like we are starting to play some really good softball,” OU head coach Patty Gasso said. “We came out every game just really bringing it. We’re hitting through the lineup, turning it over in the first inning. I feel like we are all on the same page. Everyone is really starting to get their game.”

And Pendley  has certainly been on her game. She had a grand slam homer in Friday’s win as OU set a new record for most runs in a game.  She went 3-4 on Saturday with six RBI including a three-run homer and Sunday she went 2-for-3 with an RBI. In the last 12 games Pendley is hitting .556 (20-for-36) with a .636 OBP and 1,500 slugging with 10 homers, 31 RBI, 18 runs, four doubles, seven walks and two stolen bases. Pendley is now hitting .397 for the season.

Asked about her RBIs in Saturday’s game, Pendley replied. “I didn’t realize it was that many.” Pendley ended Saturday’s game with an RBI single. It was OU’s 17th run rule win of the season. “I just try not to think when I’m up there, “Pendley said. “I’m just seeing the ball well, feeling good up there.”

“It is really enjoyable to see a player getting hot and just seeing the ball so well,” OU head coach Patty Gasso said of Pendley. “She has done a lot of damage with two strikes in her count, and that’s when you really know something is on. Brianna Turang is someone who is really hot as well.”  Shelby puts in the work. Am I out here shocked? Absolutely not. She puts in the work before and after practice. Everything that she is getting is well deserved. She really pushes herself to have these types of days. She’s made our team better without question.”

Besides giving OU a boost on offense, Pendley has been rock solid on defense, making only five errors while alternating between shortstop and third base for a fielding percentage of .926. It appears she has adapted well to third base and figures to remain at the hot corner for the remainder of the season as OU continues in its quest of a second national championship. Last year the Sooners came up short, losing twice to Alabama, the first SEC team to win a national softball championship, and the Sooners certainly haven’t forgotten the infamous title game and the rain delay.

Last year if OU had a weakness, it was defense as the Sooners finished the season with a fielding percentage of .968, ranking seventh in the Big 12 Conference. Through April of 2013, OU was tied with Kansas in defense in the conference and were among the top fielding teams in Division One with a fielding percentage of .974, ranking 13th nationally. Centerfielder Destinee Martinez showed OU’s defensive ability on Saturday when she fielded a ball hit by Sarah Hawryluk and threw the ball to the plate where senior catcher Jessica Shults applied the tag on a sliding Jordan Spendlove, who had doubled, to keep senior Michelle Gascoigne’s shutout intact. Gascoigne hurled her eighth shutout of the season and fanned four while allowing five hits. She lowered her ERA to 0.93 and her record improved to 16-2.

Pendley bats third in the OU lineup, the spot formerly held by soph sensation Lauren Chamberlain, who now hits lead-off and has been having another impressive year. Chamberlain has driven in 56 runs and smacked 22 homers. OU  doesn’t have anyone hitting below .300 in the starting lineup, which has one of the best  triumvirates (3-4-5 hitters) in the country  with Pendley, Ricketts and catcher Shults, plus Brianna Turang, the ninth hitter, has excellent speed and is having a banner year, hitting  .408.

Oklahoma is a team that is poised, determined, disciplined, talented and focused in what Sooner fans are hoping is a season to remember. And Pendley, in the final, analysis could be the difference. OU was a good team before she transferred. With her, OU is an outstanding team that wants to make this season the best in OU softball history.