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Michella Chester | NCAA.com | February 16, 2023

Oklahoma softball: The all-time starting lineup

Oklahoma softball: The best players in Sooners history

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. 

Since 2016, the Sooners have won four national championships. They finished runner-up in 2019 and just won back-to-back titles in 2021 and 2022. 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 ‚ÄĒ First base (2012-2015)

At first base, we Lauren Chamberlain.¬†She was once the home run queen, but the record was recently broken by fellow Sooner, Jocelyn Alo. Chamberlain is now second on the NCAA record list with 95 career round trippers and a .960 slugging percentage. 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¬†‚ÄĒ 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.¬†

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Amber Flores ‚ÄĒ 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 ‚ÄĒ 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 ‚ÄĒ Shortstop (2013-2015)

Pendley is another amazing player in Oklahoma lore. She is third all-time in OU home runs with 65, behind Chamberlain and Jocelyn Alo. 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. 

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Jessica Shults ‚ÄĒ 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. 

Jocelyn Alo ‚ÄĒ Utility/DH (2018-2022)

Jocelyn Alo

The one and only, Jocelyn Alo. Alo has gone down in history as one of the greatest softball players in history. She would headline the all-time lineup of all-time lineups, if it were to exist, let alone Oklahomas. Alo absolutely shattered Chamberlains previous home run record with 122 career homers. She stands on top of the NCAA as the all-time leader in home runs (122), slugging percentage (.987) and total bases (761), second all-time in RBIs (323) and fifth in runs (281). She won back-to-back 2021 and 2022 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year awards. The accolades go on and on and on. Alo was the face the college softball and undoubtedly and rightfully deserves any spot on this list. 

Unfortunately, with this addition, I had to remove Shay Knighten from this utility spot. A shame, since "big play Shay" would likely make nine out of 10 all-time lineups if it weren't for Alo also being a Sooner and needing this placement. I had hoped to find her a different position on the lineup, perhaps in the outfield. But she truly was a utility player, and played first base the majority of the time, which I couldn't take away from Chamberlain. She only had three total starts in the outfield her freshman season. Here is what I had previously written for Knighten when she held this spot: 

"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 ‚ÄĒ Outfield (2004-2007)

Norelle Dickson was No. 1 on multiple Oklahoma career records list for a long time before Alo, Tiare Jennings and Jayda Coleman came around. But, she is still a no-doubter for this all-time roster. The lefty slapper was a hitting machine. She is now second amongst Oklahoma players in batting average (.401), hits (328) and first in 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.

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Kristin Vesely ‚ÄĒ 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 fourth 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 ‚ÄĒ 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 sixth in career hits (276) and seventh in runs scored (206). We need her speed on an all-time roster. 

Keilani Ricketts ‚ÄĒ 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 ‚ÄĒ 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. 

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Division I
Softball Championship
June 1-9, 2023
USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium | Oklahoma City, OK

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