NORMAN — Lauren Chamberlain lifted her hand, showing off her national championship ring earlier this month at Oklahoma's softball media day.
“There's some resistance,” Chamberlain joked, referring to the shiny, extravagant ring's weight.
“I can do some curls.”
Even in jest, the Sooners' record-setting slugger talks about improving herself.
Chamberlain blasted 60 home runs and recorded a .404 batting average over her freshman and sophomore seasons, the latter of which ended with Oklahoma winning the national championship.
The Sooners (6-4) haven't gotten off to quite the start they expected this season, but return to action Thursday against Boise State to open the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, Calif.
Chamberlain's individual numbers are also down through 10 games; she's batting .231 with only one home run and five RBIs.
Asked how much better Chamberlain can get after her monster freshman and sophomore campaigns, assistant coach Melyssa Lombardi said, “A lot better. I think Lauren has the opportunity to continue to get stronger and stronger each year. She's worked even harder this year than her past two years.”
At media day — held four days before the Sooners' season opener — Chamberlain vowed that the pressure of repeating as national champion wouldn't get to her or the team, which elected her captain.
“You can take pressure in a couple of different ways, and I think this team does a good job of making it positive pressure,” Chamberlain said. “I think we like playing with that target on our back.”
As the Sooners got lots of national TV coverage the past two seasons while making deep runs in the Women's College World Series, Chamberlain saw herself become a minor celebrity, a fact that she has embraced.
“I think I've stayed the same, honestly,” she said. “I think it's fun when you have people recognizing you and your team when you're out in public. That's awesome. For me personally, it's great to use that to glorify God in a different way.”
Oklahoma doesn't play its first home game until March 1, when it hosts the Spring Preview Tournament with Nebraska and Arkansas Pine-Bluff.
The Sooners returned most of their roster from last year's national championship team, but lost superstar Keilani Ricketts to graduation. The two-time USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year dominated the game in the circle and at the plate.
Back, though, are key players such as senior Destinee Martinez and juniors Shelby Pendley and Georgia Casey, in addition to Chamberlain.
“Oh, she's not done,” Martinez said of Chamberlain. “She wants to be the best. She's gonna keep working and working. She's competitive within herself, and she's gonna want to beat the numbers she had last year. I'm excited to watch her.”