NORMAN — While the Sooners may not have played their best softball at the Women’s College World Series before being knocked out by Oregon on Saturday, several OU players did turn in performances to remember.
It’s a conversation that must start with the pitching duo of Kelsey Stevens and Shelby Pendley. Pendley was making her return to the World Series after a disappointing performance a year ago while Stevens was making her debut.
Both were superb for the Sooners on the weekend. After struggling in the regional against Texas A&M, Stevens found her postseason groove. She wasn’t perfect in the World Series, but she gave the Sooners a chance in every game. Even after throwing the full seven innings in Saturday’s afternoon’s victory over Louisiana-Lafayette, she was able to enter Saturday night’s game against top-seed Oregon and threw 4.2 innings while only giving up one run.
That performance gave the Sooners opportunities to complete the comeback, though they weren’t able to fight all the way back. It was a gritty performance that drew praise from coach Patty Gasso.
“Kelsey transferring over to OU and working to find out how to fit in our program; I truly have seen the growth of this pitcher to become and will be one of the forces in this game for the next couple of years,” she said. “Her tenacity and her grit and her competitive spirit, I got to really see it grow and it was wonderful to watch.”
While OU’s offense couldn’t match the performance of their ace, Pendley did more than her part in her second World Series appearance. She was at her best in Oklahoma City, finishing 4-for-9 with a pair of home runs to cap off a strong postseason run. She also made her first career postseason start against Oregon and pitched two scoreless innings before giving way to Pendley in the third.