There were many reasons Shelby Pendley transferred to Oklahoma from Arizona. Family and pent-up frustrations due to constantly playing with some nagging injury were just a few of those reasons. But one of the biggest reasons was the ability to join a loaded Sooners team as it pursued the program's second national championship.
Saturday afternoon in Norman, Pendley pushed the Sooners one step closer to their goal, blasting two home runs and driving in five runs to help OU finish a two-game sweep of Texas A&M, 8-0. The win secured a berth in the Women's College World Series for Oklahoma, its third straight trip to Oklahoma City.
A day after the Sooners had trouble figuring out Aggies starting pitcher Mel Dumezich until late in the game, Oklahoma jumped on A&M early, with Pendley blasting a solo home run to right center in the top of the first inning.
OU starting pitcher Keilani Ricketts was dominating in the circle once again for the Sooners, giving up just three hits—none after the second inning—while striking out seven batters. Ricketts was also effective at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a two-RBI double in the top of the fourth, part of a four-run inning that chased Dumezich from the game.
However, even Ricketts' performance paled in comparison to that of Pendley, who came to the plate in the top of the third inning with two on and promptly blasted a no-doubt home run to right center again to push the OU lead to 4-0. With the bases loaded in the fourth, Pendley coaxed a walk out of Dumezich for her fifth RBI of the game.
That was more than enough offense for Ricketts who cruised through the last three innings, gathering six strikeouts over the last nine outs.
After Ricketts struck out A&M's Breanna Dozier to end the series, the Sooners celebrated, but not in a very demonstrative way. There was no dogpile, no looks of surprised joy—although, Ricketts and Jessica Shults managed to corral coach Patty Gasso for a Gatorade bath during the coach's postgame TV interview.
Beating—really, sweeping—the Aggies was expected; another necessary step in the journey toward a national championship. Thanks to the contributions of a player the Sooners never in their wildest dreams expected to have this season, Oklahoma is heading back to the Women's College World Series, determined to return home with a trophy this time.