Chamberlain Leading Oklahoma's Charge to Repeat

Chamberlain leading OU's charge to repeat as national champion

NORMAN, Okla- By winning the Norman Super Regional, current national champion Oklahoma will get an opportunity to defend its title when the Women's College World Series begins Thursday at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.

The Sooners disposed of a good Tennessee team, 8-2, being forced to the if necessary game after the two teams split the earlier contests. The last team to win back-to-back national titles was Arizona in 2006-07, but the Wildcats have had trouble in recent years in qualifying for the WCWS and will miss this year's event for the fourth season in a row.

OU is peaking right now and if you are a fan of college softball, you have to admire the never give up attitude of the Sooners. In the regional, the Sooners trailed Texas A&M and rallied with three runs in the bottom of the seventh to win. Against the Lady Vols Sunday, OU trailed early, 1-0, after losing Saturday night, 4-0.

The run Tennessee scored came when normally sure-handed left fielder senior Destiny Martinez dropped a fly ball for what should have been the third out. Tennessee's Megan Geer was running on the play and scored easily.

The error was only the third this season for Martinez and only the eighth of her outstanding career. She felt bad of course not knowing if the run would be the only run needed to defeat the Sooners and end their season. It would take more than one run to beat the Sooners and Lauren Chamberlain made sure of that by hitting a solo homer leading off the third inning, tying the game.

Chamberlain is not 100 percent and is playing with a partially torn PCL in her right knee and has changed her batting mechanics, shifting the pressure to her front knee. After the homer, OU added
another run in the inning en route to an 8- 2 win highlighted by a four-run sixth inning. And Chamberlain continued to connect, hitting her second homer of the game on an 0-1 pitch. It was the 14th time in her career that she had a multi-homer game and her second of the season. She now has 12 homers on the year and 72 in her career, tying for 10th in NCAA Division I history with Hawaii's Kelly Maja (2010-2013).

"She’s doing this with one leg, literally. I’ve never seen somebody so in tune and so confident,” said OU head coach Patty Gasso. “I don’t know even know the words to describe the hitter she is because she can
hit anything. Nothing rattles her, nothing makes her uncomfortable. She just thrives on pressure situations. It’s very difficult to find athletes who thrive on those situations. She just leads this team by one
swing and she’ll come back and do it again and again and it’s amazing. It’s amazing how she can take herself to that place. It’s something that is very rare in college or probably in any athlete.”

When Chamberlain crossed home plate one of the first players out to greet her was Martinez whose tears of agony were swept away by one swing of Chamberlain's bat.

Some athletes when they get to the big stage, like the Women's College World Series, can't handle it and end up playing maybe not as well as they would have liked. Chamberlain isn't one of them. She thrives on the competition and the pressure and thoroughly enjoys the moment. She has given the Sooners a bundle of moments in her almost three years on campus and has another season to go when she probably will become the NCAA all-time career homer leader. She is 19 away from setting a record, which is 90, but who knows she might hit a few more next week even when she isn't at 100 percent. Even at less than 100 percent she still is one of the top clutch power hitters in softball and a threat to take the softball over the fence every time up.

Asked about going back to OKC to defend, Chamberlain said. “I call it the 'promise land' because that’s what it feels like. Personally, and I think the team would say the same, some of my best moments have been on that field and in that environment. It’s just a special place and I’m thankful that it’s in God’s plan that we’re going back there. I’m excited for Kelsey (Stevens) and some of our freshmen that haven’t been there before just to feel those feelings because it’s unreal. I can’t even explain it. I’m getting goosebumps and I’m really excited to be back.”

Who wouldn't be excited to defend the national title and get a chance to repeat, even with an injury.

Asked about the injury, Chamberlain said, “I think game by game it’s getting more comfortable. I’m testing things out and seeing what my body lets me do and what it doesn’t. We have a couple days for some good rest and rehab for me, but adrenaline takes over for me in the game so I feel it more after.”