NORMAN — When Lauren Chamberlain heard her name chanted by the Oklahoma fans, she wondered how to react.
“I was like, ‘Wait, what? This is softball,” Chamberlain said of the chants that roared to her to make a curtain call appearance after knocking a three-run home run in the top of the third that broke open Oklahoma's scoring. The No. 1-ranked Sooners went on to beat Arkansas 14-1 and win the NCAA Regional.
“I've only seen it at baseball games,” Chamberlain said of the curtain call.
She abided and popped out of the dugout, a smiling face and a brief wave to the applause of her teammates and yet another roar from the crowd.
Then came Shelby Pendley's home run to right field.
Another curtain call. Pendley walked out of the dugout, smiled and waved.
Then came the changes in the lineup. At 12-1, Gasso replaced her starters in the batting order. Javen Henson was at the plate and Erica Sampson stood on second. Henson sent it flying over the left field fence.
A third home run. A third curtain call. Henson walked out of the dugout with a solo pointer finger in the air and smiled.
“It's fun,” Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso said of the fans' reactions. “I don't know if our fans have always been as vocal but they were really fun. We had fun with them.
“Curtain calls? They have no idea. I made a comment to them and said, ‘Have you ever seen a curtain call in softball?' So now, they expect it probably.”
As for the play in the game, the Sooners (50-4) showed that they were able to capitalize on mistakes and big moments. In the third, Oklahoma scored two runs before Chamberlain's home run, on an error when the right fielder for Arkansas (36-20) dropped the ball.
“Softball is a big game of momentum and we know that,” Chamberlain said. “As the season's been going on, we're better at knowing when we can capitalize.”
That ability to capitalize, Gasso said, is what makes this team the best in the nation.
“They're a big momentum team and they won't say they know that they're good, but they know that they're good," Gasso said. "They love to keep the inning alive. That's why you see them respond with two outs.”
Like Chamberlain's home run. It came with two outs and she had a 3-2 count.
“In those big situations, breathing helps a lot,” she said. “But at the same time, I don't get worried.”
In the three games Oklahoma played this regional, Chamberlain knocked in 13 RBIs and hit two home runs.
So what's Chamberlain's secret?
“Ball was just looking pretty big today,” Chamberlain said.