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February 14, 2008

Mathis has found her form

D.J. Mathis has known some adversity in her two-plus seasons at Oklahoma.

And it’s been a long journey for the 5-6 hurler from East Alton, Ill., which is just north of St. Louis along the Illinois River. But it finally looks like the hard work she’s put in is starting to pay off.

The Sooner junior is 3-0 this season with a 0.39 earned run average. And all of her wins have been complete-game victories, including last Sunday’s against No. 10 UCLA on the Bruins’ home field during the UCLA-Cal State Fullerton Freeway Series.

“It was exciting,” Mathis said of the UCLA victory. “It was very exciting.”

Mathis suffered some growing pains her freshman year of 2006. She and some of the other freshmen at OU had trouble finding their game.

She finished that season 15-9 with a 2.27 ERA. Though she wasn’t a power pitcher, she recorded her share of strikeouts and was an intimidating fireball of bright red hair and energy when she stepped into the circle.

She got hot toward the end of the season, pitching spectacularly at the Michigan Regional in Ann Arbor.

Still, the first year of college softball had been a long one for Mathis. She incurred a shoulder injury in the middle of the schedule and pitched in pain the rest of the way.

When the team’s plane landed for a stopover between Ann Arbor and Norman, Mathis was quick to point out how close to home she was.

“It’s not very far,” she said, one day removed from being knocked out of the NCAA Tournament.

She admitted to missing home, like most freshmen, and by the time she was on campus the next fall, Mathis was being looked at as the new ace in coach Patty Gasso’s cadre of pitchers. All the pressure that came along with that was present, too.

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