NORMAN — One of the most difficult parts of game day for Oklahoma softball coach Patty Gasso occurs well before her team ever takes the field.
Over the last two months, the lineup card must’ve felt like an unsolvable puzzle for Gasso, with a constant stream of injuries, adjustments and shuffling to find the right mix both in the field and at the plate.
Heading into their Women’s College World Series opener against second-seeded Alabama at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, the No. 7-seeded Sooners look to be closer to getting the lineup dialed in, but it hasn’t been easy.
“It’s an emotional roller-coaster, really, but in a good way, because we’ve seen players emerge like Kady Self,” Gasso said. “We wouldn’t be in this situation without Kady Self. To see her tear her ACL was a blow to us. Then Lauren (Chamberlain) goes down.
“But people started stepping up to fill in the gaps until we figured out what we were gonna do next.”
Gasso has used a different batting order for each of the Sooners’ six NCAA Tournament games, though in the final two games of the super-regional against Tennessee, OU had all the same players in the same positions for the first time in the postseason.
Of the nine players in Sunday’s batting order, only five of them have started more than 36 of the Sooners’ 61 games.
Injuries have been the biggest reason for the shuffling. Chamberlain, the team’s most dangerous hitter, made her 36th start Sunday after missing 25 games with two separate injuries.
A knee injury kept Chamberlain out of the first regional tournament game, and she couldn’t play in the field for the next two. Finally in the super-regional, she was back in at first base, and looking more comfortable at the plate.
For the series, she was 7-for-11 with four RBIs and two monstrous home runs, though she’s still not 100 percent healthy.
Continue reading this story on the...