The Norman Transcript

Sports

May 3, 2014

Chamberlain punctuates return with deep shot in win over Red Raiders

NORMAN — Lauren Chamberlain has been back on the field for Oklahoma for a week and has found success, going 3 for 8 in four games. But there was really only one way for the program’s all-time home runs leader to announce her return to form.

Chamberlain provided that with a deep home run that bounced off the scoreboard in left field to key the Sooners’ 5-0 victory over Texas Tech on Friday night at Marita Hynes Field.

Before Chamberlain went out a month ago with a back injury, she had endured a slew of walks as teams took advantage of the fact that the 12th-ranked Sooners no longer had All-Americans Keilani Ricketts and Jessica Shults batting behind her. Things haven’t changed much since her return — she drew seven walks in 15 at-bats since returning — but Chamberlain finally found her chance on a low pitch in the third inning. She reached down and sent it high into the air toward left before it finally began to come down after clearing the wall.

The shot pushed OU’s lead to 2-0 and highlighted a 1-for-2 day at the plate for Chamberlain, who also drew a base on the balls in the first inning and was intentionally walked in the sixth.

“It looked like the good old days,” coach Patty Gasso said. “I can feel her getting her timing and her swing back. It won’t be long until she’s completely comfortable again. And her telling me she’s feeling okay to stay in the game defensively is big for us.”

While Chamberlain provided the fireworks, Kelsey Stevens provided further evidence that she’s quickly evolving from a great pitcher to an elite one, turning in another gem in a string of them. After taking a no-hitter into the fourth inning against Arkansas on Wednesday, she didn’t allow the Red Raiders (35-17, 8-8) a hit until Sydni Emanuel singled into left field with one out in the sixth inning. Stevens finished the game with a season-high 11 strikeouts while going the distance, giving up just two hits and not allowing a runner past second base.

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