Let's talk about a softball program that's developed into a national power. If you have watched college softball over the past five years, or even just a little last season, you know this name. Oklahoma. They're good. Yes, really good.
In the past half-decade, the Sooners have won two national championships and finished runner-up in 2019. In the one year during this span they weren't in the Women's College World Series final series, they still only lost five games that 2018 season. There must've been some phenoms that had something to do with all this recent success.
We dug deep into the record books to pick this all-time lineup, and based the selections heavily on career statistics and Oklahoma all-time records, All-American honors, other awards and championships.
Lauren Chamberlain — First base (2012-2015)
At first base, we have the home run queen. And not just the Oklahoma home run leader, but the NCAA all-time record holder. Chamberlain still holds the NCAA record with 95 career round trippers and a .960 slugging percentage. She also leads Oklahoma in career runs scored, total bases and RBIs. Chamberlain was named to the 2012 and 2013 WCWS All-Tournament teams and was a three-time first team All-American. In the only year she wasn't named first team All-American, she missed 25 total games due to a back injury suffered in March and a partially torn PCL in her right knee in May — and still finished as a third team All-American. Chamberlain was one of three finalists for 2013 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, and absolutely deserves a spot on this all-time roster.
Amber Flores — Second base (2007-2010)
The choice for second base was a tough one, with two great options in Flores and Caleigh Clifton. Clifton had an outstanding senior season but I went with Flores, whose career stats were slightly more padded. Flores was a three-time All-American and finished her career with a .369 batting average and 56 home runs, which ranks fourth all-time at Oklahoma. She was also a three-time finalist for USA Softball's Collegiate Player of the Year.
Sydney Romero — Third base (2016-2019)
Here is a familiar name. Romero was tearing it up just last season with the Sooners. Her name floods OU’s all-time record. She leads all Sooners in career at-bats (853) and career doubles (58), is second all-time in hits (320), and fifth in batting average (.375), runs scored (229) and home runs (54). Romero is also sixth in assists (367) and seventh in slugging (.654).
Romero was one of the huge pieces in Oklahoma's last two WCWS title runs in 2016 and 2017. She led the nation in 2019 in total bases and led the team in batting average, hits, home runs and RBIs.
Shelby Pendley — Shortstop (2013-2015)
Pendley is another amazing player in Oklahoma lore. She is second all-time in OU home runs with 65, behind Chamberlain. She wasn't only a power hitter though; she was extremely versatile. Pendley could play just about anywhere in the infield and even spent some time in the pitching circle. In her senior season, she led the Sooners in batting average, hits, home runs, RBIs and total bases as a shortstop. She was 2013 Big-12 player of the year and finished second in career batting average at Oklahoma. She hit .430 and .413 in her final two seasons.
Jessica Shults — Catcher (2010-2013)
There were multiple viable options behind the plate. Heather Scaglione was a two-time All-American and a strong power hitter, and Ashli Barrett helped lead the Sooners to their first-ever national championship. I went with Jessica Shults here, who finished third all-time in home runs (61) at Oklahoma and was the 2012 NFCA Diamond Catcher of the Year, an impressive honor. She put together an outstanding career and started breaking records right from the get-go, smashing a freshman program-record 15 home runs her first season.
Shay Knighten — Utility (2015-2019)
"Big play Shay." We have to have Shay Knighten in this all-time lineup. I went back and forth between Lisa Carey, who led the Sooners to their first national title, and Shay Knighten, who helped guide the Sooners to their last two titles. (Jocelyn Alo will be knocking on the door pretty soon when she wraps up her career). You can’t go wrong with these options, but I ultimately chose Knighten. She was Most Outstanding Player in the 2017 WCWS as a sophomore, and had oh-so-many big-play moments in those recent WCWS trips. She brought home two national titles, was Big 12 Player of the Year in 2017, a three-time Big-12 first-teamer and was definitely deserving of that nickname.
Norelle Dickson — Outfield (2004-2007)
Norelle Dickson is No. 1 on multiple Oklahoma career records list and was a no-doubter for this all-time roster. The lefty slapper was a hitting machine. She still leads all Oklahoma players in batting average (.401), hits (328) and stolen bases (110). She became the first player in the Big 12 to record at least 300 hits, 200 runs and 100 stolen bases in her career.
Kristin Vesely — Outfield (2003-2006)
Kristin Vesely was a USA player of the year semifinalist who held a 73-game errorless streak stretching from her junior to senior seasons. She is third in Oklahoma career hits (293) and was a complete athlete, considering she was a member of the Oklahoma soccer team all four years as well. Vesely was named to the All-Big 12 team in each of her four years and was an NFCA All-American as a junior and senior.
Christy Ring — Outfield (1999-2002)
We've got another player from the very first Oklahoma national championship team in the outfield. Ring played from 1999-2002 but still saturates the all-time records list at Oklahoma. Ring is second all-time in stolen bases with 86, ranks fifth in career hits (276) and sixth in runs scored (206). We need her speed on an all-time roster.
Keilani Ricketts — Pitcher (2010-2013)
Keilani Ricketts was an insane talent. In fact, she still is. She won the Honda Award back-to-back in 2012 and 2013, and then went on to take on the Honda Broderick cup for best collegiate female athlete in 2013. She is the only Oklahoma player to ever win the prestigious award. Ricketts became one of the most prolific pitchers in WCWS history. She was setting records each year, then breaking them the next. Ricketts finished her career with 1,605 strikeouts and offensively she had 50 career home runs.
Paige Parker — Pitcher (2015-2018)
Remember those last two Oklahoma titles? Paige Parker was in the circle for both of them, including a Most Outstanding Player performance at the 2016 WCWS. Parker has the second most wins in OU history behind Ricketts and struck out 968 batters in her career. She took home a few awards as well, including NFCA freshman of the year, Big 12 pitcher of the year and three WCWS all-tournament team mentions.
Honorable mentions: Lisa Carey, Ashli Barrett, Heather Scaglione, Caleigh Clifton, Lauren Eckermann, Jill Most, Kelsey Stevens, Samantha Ricketts, Kami Keiter.