A time to reflect
OU's Chamberlain looks back on accomplished career
OKLAHOMA CITY -- When Lauren Chamberlain is asked to describe her style of play on the softball field, she uses one word -- savage.
“Savage is just an all-out beast,” Chamberlain said. “I really just think it's important to play as hard as you can all the time. Don't take a pitch off. Have a swag about you.”
However, when Chamberlain showed up to the stadium where she created so many highlights for Oklahoma, she didn't look comfortable walking into ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Part of the reason for Chamberlain's uneasiness was due to the reason she was at the stadium. She was taking part in the NFCA All-American Press Conference on Wednesday. She was on the panel with Ally Carda, Allexis Bennett, Kasey Cooper, Cheridan Hawkins and Emily Carosone.
Yet, unlike the rest of players, Chamberlain was the only one not in uniform. The Sooners season had ended last week in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. While everyone else had been preparing for the Women's College World Series in her backyard, she was preparing for the next stage of her life.
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Chamberlain was the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NPF draft and will play for the USSSA Pride where she will join former Sooner Keilani Rickets. The two were teammates on the 2013 National Championship team.
Chamberlain's college career came to an end after she hit three home runs during the Tuscaloosa Super Regionals against Alabama. While she was easily the biggest star of the weekend, it still pains the Trabuco Canyon, California, native that she wasn't able to carry her team to a fourth consecutive trip to the WCWS.
Despite that, Chamberlain said she will always remember her four years with the Sooners.
“My career was fun,” Chamberlain said. “It really was fun. Just full of passion and excitement. Best memories were on this team by far. So it's going to be really sad. Honestly my teammates -- just the camaraderie we had and energy. A lot of people can say that about their team. But hands down, I really do think our team was different. It just made it fun for me.”
While Chamberlain will look back on the fun times with her teammates, college softball fans will remember the excitement she brought to every at-bat.
With her 95 homers, Chamberlain ended her career as the all-time leading home-run hitter. Her .960 slugging percentage is also an NCAA record.
“It still kind of hits me in waves that that happened,” Chamberlain said. “It's just a testimony to the type of players that I've been surrounded by, that have allowed me to get those at-bats to get those home runs. Again, just talking about the type of athletes that I've been around that raised my play and my level of play and I've always said that if there's something that I'm chasing, I want to get it. So it was fun for me. It was fun.
"I really wanted to have a good career. I wanted to have a big and bold and outstanding career. That's what I wanted and I set high goals for myself. I got to check a lot off the list.”
Despite having a solid career coming out of El Toro High in California, Chamberlain said she didn't know if she had what it took to be relevant at the DI level. It wasn't until late in her freshman year that it became evident to even her that she had a lot to offer the game.
“I think just once I started to get the hang of the DI level and see what it was about, once I started to see I had success at that level, I was thinking about the future for sure,” Chamberlain said. “I would say the ah-ha moment came freshman year in the postseason. We got to the championship game, but just seeing my personal play excel in those clutch situations. In those tense and really good situations at the end of postseason. Seeing the type of player I became, almost like a savage at that time of the year was fun. I couldn't wait to get wait to get back there on that stage again next year.”