STILLWATER — With slugger Lauren Chamberlain back in the lineup and at least a share of the Big 12 championship already clinched, the defending national champion Oklahoma softball team appears primed for another deep postseason run.
First, though, the Sooners must get through a two-game, home-and-home series with Bedlam rival Oklahoma State, beginning Saturday at 1 p.m. in Stillwater. The teams meet again Sunday at 2 p.m. in Norman to conclude the regular season.
“If you look at where we were at the beginning of the season and where we are now, it’s a huge improvement,” said junior infielder Georgia Casey. “That’s what we want coming to the end of conference and going into postseason.”
Two games ahead of second-place Baylor, Oklahoma (43-10 overall, 14-2 Big 12) can claim the Big 12 title outright by winning just one of its two games this weekend against the Cowgirls (26-26, 5-11 Big 12). OU won the season’s first meeting 2-0 on April 2 in Norman.
That game was won without Chamberlain, a junior who blasted 60 home runs over her first two seasons on campus. But before her back injury in late March, she’d only hit six home runs in 2014.
The Sooners as a team struggled early in the 2014 campaign, losing their first two games and three of their first 10.
Chamberlain returned seven games ago and seems to have rediscovered her home run swing, belting two in the last three games. The Sooners enter Bedlam on a 10-game winning streak.
Oklahoma will begin NCAA Regional play next weekend, with super regionals following the next weekend.
“It was a slow process and it was something I had to be really patient about, health-wise and just know when the right time to come back was,” Chamberlain said. “I put in a lot of hard work during my rehab, so it wasn't necessarily like I had a lot of time off. I was just trying to improve so I didn't feel too far behind when I got back.
“We know that we’re starting to play our best ball and that’s crucial coming into this time of the season.”