NORMAN — The last time Adam Choplick released a pitch in an actual game his world turned upside down. It was the summer of 2011 and just as he let the ball go, a sharp and distinctive pain shot through his left elbow. That pain signaled a torn ligament.
Fast-forward through Tommy John’s surgery and 15 months of rehab, he toed the rubber in a game for the first time since the injury Tuesday at L. Dale Mitchell Park against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
The butterflies were churning through his stomach, but not because of the game.
“With all the work everyone has put into me behind the scenes, it’s really been a pleasure to go out there and show them their time wasn’t wasted; that I can still go out there and do my best and that everything still works,” he said.
It wasn’t for naught. Choplick, threw five predetermined innings of one-hit, one-run ball that kick-started a 4-2, 11-1, doubleheader sweep for the Sooners.
The victories lifted OU to 6-0. What’s important was that they came with the knowledge that Choplick is physically ready to join the pitching arsenal that’s carried OU through the hot start.
The only damage Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-4) imposed on the 6-foot-8 redshirt freshman came on an unearned run in the second inning. He struck out six and didn’t issue a walk or hit a batter and threw 65 pitches.
“It was amazing how much poise he showed out there,” OU coach Sunny Golloway said. “You have to be thinking about a lot things because the last time he pitched competitively, something popped.”
Choplick thought about that, too. The mind can really wander when you haven’t done something in a year and half. There had been bullpen sessions and a couple of appearances in intrasquad games, but Tuesday was the first time it was real.