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May 27, 2014

Finally, Sooners look like a team that might repeat

(Continued)

NORMAN —

On the other hand, over Stevens’ last 157 innings, that ERA is 2.27, so she’s trending the right direction. Maybe more important, over her first 102 innings this season, she’d allowed 128 base runners, or 1.25 per frame. Since — that same 157 inning sample — it’s 1.02, which is much better.

Maybe a more tangible test came up in the first inning Sunday against Tennessee three-hole hitter Annie Aldrete, a .368 hitter with 19 home runs. The at-bat lasted about 10 pitches, Stevens was moving the ball around and Aldrete just kept fouling it off. Finally, Stevens challenged her with a fastball down main street and Aldrete couldn’t catch up to it.

Stevens flat challenged one of the nation’s best hitters and came up aces.

Of course, that was before Lauren Chamberlain hit either of her two home runs “with one leg, literally,” according to Gasso.

It was before Javin Henson and her .234 batting average hit a home run out of the eight-hole and it was before the Sooners turned a competitive game into a laugher with three sixth-inning home runs.

It’s hard putting Chamberlain into context, but maybe thinking of her as every bit the slugger Courtney Paris ever was a basketball player should help. Or that she hits the softball as well as Jason White or Sam Bradford threw the football. Or, maybe, that she’s just the best pure hitter the college game’s ever known.

Also, remember that she plays on a team that kept things afloat reasonably well without her for big stretches, and that for two games this past weekend, the entire lineup came together against Tennessee.

Lady Vol pitcher Ellen Renfroe arrived in Norman riding an ERA south of 2. She tossed one shutout, but was shelled twice.

So don’t count the Sooners out beginning Thursday. They’re not expected to repeat and shouldn’t be, but it’s not like they’ve squeaked back into the field.

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