Pendley doesn't want to blame it on her back, but she watched her batting average drop 100 points in the postseason. In that series against Oklahoma, she went 0-for-4.
The NCAA rules allowed Pendley an immediate release if her coach signed off. If not, she would have to sit out a year, meaning she would have missed this spring and next fall. She was allowed a one-time transfer. Working with an NCAA representative who acted as the middleman, Pendley was granted her release.
Although Gasso knew she was getting a player who was injured, she didn't think twice about agreeing to the transfer. Gasso knew Pendley would be in good hands with Oklahoma's trainer. When Pendley started competing with the Sooners, Gasso moved her from shortstop to third, due to her shoulder issues.
“I needed to get her in the lineup just to get her bat in,” Gasso said. “Putting her at third made her throw come more (from the side), which made it hurt less. If she was playing shortstop and had to throw from the five-six hole it was a big, long overhand throw, which she couldn't do.”
“I like Shelby at third. I think she's very aggressive, and she reads the ball well. It just kind of worked itself out.”
And Pendley likes it at third. Actually, she likes everything about Oklahoma. The coaches, the teammates and even the classes.
“I normally don't like school,” she said. “But I really do like school here.”
But what she likes the most is that, so far this season, she is injury free.
On Tuesday, the Big 12 named Pendley its Player of the Year. She was stunned and humbled by the honor, though she led Big 12 players in homers (10) and RBIs (30).
Gasso was amazed at her sophomore's ability to transition.
“She didn't have a fall with us,” Gasso said. “This is a kid that was probably a little uncomfortable making this big move — I mean, I'm a starting shortstop for the University of Arizona, the University of Arizona, and I make this big decision to leave and everyone is up in arms about it.
“She comes here and even some here are like, ‘What are you doing? You're messing with the mojo of the team.' She made them believers.”
In return, Oklahoma made her believe again, too. The Sooners are Big 12 champions. Ranked No. 1 in the country with a 47-4 record.
“This is the dream I was looking at when I was a little kid,” Pendley said.