WCWS notebook: OU'S Shelby Pendley among first-team All-Americans

by Scott Wright and Jacob Unruh and Trent Shadid Published: May 28, 2014

Pendley among first-team All-Americans

Fifty-four players from 32 schools were selected to the first three teams of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America teams released Wednesday.

Oklahoma third baseman Shelby Pendley was a first-team selection and first baseman Lauren Chamberlain was named to the third team. Tulsa shortstop Jill Barrett was a second-team choice and pitcher Aimee Creger was on the third team.

In all, nine first-team selections were from teams competing in the Women’s College World Series, set to begin Thursday at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.

OU coach Patty Gasso thinks Pendley will be a different player in her second WCWS. The coach saw Pendley putting some added pressure on herself last year. As a result, Pendley had an up-and-down series, both in the field and at the plate.

But this year, Pendley has been one of the Sooners’ most reliable players in all phases, and Gasso expects her to be more settled in on the big stage.

“On a national stage, I think you’ll see some athletes really put unnecessary pressure on themselves. If you’re dreaming about this your entire life and now you’re in it, you’re just bonkers,” Gasso said. “The harder you try to be great, the tougher it is to make happen.

“(Pendley) didn’t really show herself and allowed the expectations and the whole setting to get the best of her. But I think now she can settle in and get after it.”

CAJUNS’ HOME RUN-HAPPY CATCHER

During its run of success the last 12 years under coach Michael Lotief, Louisiana-Lafayette has often been regarded as a strong power-hitting team, and this year is no different.

The Ragin’ Cajuns have 88 home runs, second-most in the NCAA this season, led by catcher Lexie Elkins with 22.

But in the NCAA Tournament, Elkins’ power surge has been a little more unique. The sophomore has only four hits in ULL’s five NCAA Tournament games, all home runs.

NO CLEAR-CUT FAVORITE

Parity in college softball appears to be at an all-time high and this year’s WCWS provides a good example.

Oregon comes in as the top seed and defending champion Oklahoma will have the local advantage, but several coaches were quick to point out the competitive balance among the final eight teams.

“It’s such a tough journey to get here,”Lotief said. “I think now there’s so much parity among this field. I think a lot of these games are going to be decided by a pitch, by a call, by a play. It’s going to be fun to see what happens over the next week and we’re excited to be a part of it. It’s just a great time for our sport, I think.”

Two of the favorites to make the final eight were knocked off last weekend as 13th-seeded Baylor went on the road and swept fourth-seeded Georgia, and 14th-seeded Kentucky advanced to its first WCWS by taking two of three from third-seeded UCLA in Los Angeles.

Five different conferences — ACC, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and Sun Belt — are represented among the eight teams. ULL of the Sun Belt is the first mid-major to make the WCWS since Hawaii (WAC) in 2010.

The WCWS is currently tied for its longest streak without a repeat champion at five years. Oklahoma will be looking to become the first program to win back-to-back titles since Arizona (2006-07).

SOFTBALL CONTINUES GROWTH

For the first time in six years, Lotief has his ULL team playing in the Women’s College World Series, and he is in the front of the line to acknowledge how much has changed.

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by Scott Wright
Reporter
A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and...
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by Jacob Unruh
Reporter
Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the...
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by Trent Shadid
Copy Editor
Trent Shadid is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Weatherford, Okla., and attended Weatherford High School. Before joining The Oklahoman, he spent two seasons as an assistant wrestling coach at Weatherford High...
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