Oklahoma softball: Freshmen assigned to cheer loud, cheer proud

Former high school stars remain part of the team with dugout competition.
by Stephanie Kuzydym Published: April 25, 2013
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photo - Shelby Pendley is greated at home after her home run as the University of Oklahoma (OU) Sooners play the Baylor Bears in NCAA college softball at Marita Hines Field on Saturday, April 6, 2013  in Norman, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
Shelby Pendley is greated at home after her home run as the University of Oklahoma (OU) Sooners play the Baylor Bears in NCAA college softball at Marita Hines Field on Saturday, April 6, 2013 in Norman, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

NORMAN  —   Oklahoma softball coach Patty Gasso saw no reason to add talent outside the state to the 2013 roster when she found it all home grown.

The problem with that, though, was all seven freshmen knew exactly who Keilani Ricketts, Lauren Chamberlain and Jessica Shults were — and how big of stars they have made the University of Oklahoma softball team.

This weekend, the voices of the seven freshmen will ring through the air as the No. 1-ranked Sooners play a three-game series against Iowa State at Marita Hynes Field. It'll be one more round of tests Gasso gave to Taylor Dewberry (McAlester), Whitney Elis (Yukon), Paris and Jules Townsend (Tulsa), Erin Miller (Tulsa), Leslie Miller (Blanchard) and Kady Self (Edmond). Gasso wants them to be a part of the team by cheering loud and proud.

The coach asked them to each take an inning during every game to lead the dugout cheers.

These are college freshmen, who grew up in awe of the Sooners. But at the same time, they were stars of respective high school teams. Some won high school state titles or earned All-State and All-District honors.

Now they're relegated to learning to be part of the team by cheering from the bench.

Paris and Jules Townsend sit finishing each others sentences. They are twins and the only pair of sisters on the team. (Erin and Leslie Miller are not related).

Coming to OU, the Townsend twins played against or with the five other incoming freshmen, but that didn't ease their intimidation at Oklahoma's softball prestige.


by Stephanie Kuzydym
Reporter
Stephanie Kuzydym learned at a young age that life is a game of inches. That's just one reason why she loves football. Kuzydym joined The Oklahoman in July 2012. Before arriving in the state, Kuzydym was an intern for the sports departments at...
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