OKLAHOM CITY -- Oklahoma catcher Jessica Shults announced before OU's opening game of the 2011 Women's College World Series that she had been hospitalized for pan ulcerative colitis, which has forced her to miss all of the Sooners' NCAA tournament games this season.

“It’s a genetic disease and it causes bleeding in your colon,” Shults said. “I had some symptoms like pain in your stomach and bleeding, but I thought I could play through it and it turns out I couldn’t.”

Shults, a second-team All-American this season, said one of the reasons she chose to speak publicly about her condition was to raise awareness of the disease. It is a relatively rare condition, and because she was not familiar with the symptoms, she did not seek medical attention quickly when she started showing symptoms. She had hoped to play through the remainder of the season before seeking treatment. Had she sought treatment immediately, she could be available to play this week.

After 10 days in the hospital, taking place during OU’s NCAA regional and super regional play, Shults had lost 25 pounds. She is beginning to feel better and will be with the Sooners in the dugout at the WCWS.

The disease cannot be cured, but can be easily managed with diet and medication. Shults probably will not see the field during the WCWS but plans to be back on the field in 2012.