When Shelby Pendley transferred to Oklahoma, coach Patty Gasso knew she was getting another great bat in her lineup.
What she couldn’t have known was how much versatility Pendley would bring to the squad.
Pendley isn’t just the Big 12’s best all-around hitter, she’s an outstanding shortstop and the No. 2 pitcher behind freshman Paige Parker.
It’s all those traits that make Pendley the Tribune-Herald’s Big 12 softball player of the year for the second straight season.
“Shelby is the best athlete I’ve ever coached at Oklahoma,” Gasso said. “She can do so many things and she’s so great at them. She gives you options because she can play shortstop and third base. She can lead off or hit third or fourth in the order and she runs so well.”
The Big 12 champion Sooners swept all the Trib’s major awards, as Paige Parker is pitcher and freshman of the year and Gasso is the coach of the year.
Pendley is the Big 12’s second leading hitter with a .436 batting average with a league-high 24 homers and 65 RBIs.
During conference play, she tore up opposing pitchers with a league-best .522 average with nine homers and 25 RBIs.
With Pendley and NCAA career home run leader Lauren Chamberlain in the lineup, the Sooners are a scary sight for any opposing pitcher.
Lineup protection for big bopper
“Lauren Chamberlain has seen a lot better pitches because she’s got Shelby Pendley behind her,” Baylor coach Glenn Moore said. “She’s neck and neck with her in the home run race. She’s just a very reliable hitter, one of the best to ever play the game no doubt about it. It’s a great choice for player of the year.”
While Parker is the Big 12’s best pitcher, Pendley has been a strong No. 2 as she’s gone 12-1 with a 2.33 ERA in 21 appearances.
Pendley didn’t pitch during her freshman year at Arizona or during her sophomore season at Oklahoma.
But when the Sooners needed another arm last season she volunteered to pitch and went 2-1 with four saves and a 2.08 ERA in 23 appearances, mostly out of the bullpen.
“We had pitching struggles last year and she came to the coaching staff and said, ‘If you need me I can try,’” Gasso said. “She was much better than we anticipated and she’s our No. 2 pitcher now.”
Pendley has put up powerful offensive numbers in all three seasons at Oklahoma as she hit .357 with 22 homers and 73 RBIs as a sophomore in 2013 and .430 with 19 homers and 76 RBIs last year.
“She’s a phenomenal competitor and is definitely an athlete who puts in the work,” Gasso said. “She’s completely committed to improving herself and the team. Shelby’s commitment to work ethic is infectious to the younger athletes and she sets the tone.”
Parker had all the high school credentials to become the Sooners’ next great pitcher after twice being honored as Missouri’s Gatorade player of the year. As a senior at Independence Truman High School, the left-hander finished 23-2 with an 0.25 ERA and 342 strikeouts in 166 innings.
Ahead of the curve
She’s made a smooth transition to the collegiate level by going 24-5 with a 1.45 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 179 innings. Her wins and ERA top the Big 12.
“When freshman pitchers come in you don’t know what to expect because you’re able to get away with things in high school and travel ball,” Gasso said. “I’m most pleased with the improvement Paige has made since February and her maturity and willingness to learn. She’s very intelligent when it comes to pitching. The things she shares with the coaching staff you can’t believe come from a freshman.”
While former Oklahoma All-America pitcher Keilani Ricketts was a flame thrower, Parker relies on changing speeds and working all areas of the strike zone.
“Paige is ahead of the curve because she can pinpoint pitches and hits her spots really well,” Gasso said. “She works the count well and is poised. There’s no panic from her and that sets her apart. She’s very confident as a freshman.”
Parker is the Big 12’s freshman of the year for both her pitching performances and her success at the plate. She’s Oklahoma’s second leading hitter with a .418 average with nine homers and 40 RBIs.
2015 TRIBUNE-HERALD ALL-BIG 12 SOFTBALL TEAM
|Player of the year: Shelby Pendley, Oklahoma|
|Pitcher of the year: Paige Parker, Oklahoma|
|Freshman of the year: Paige Parker, Oklahoma|
|Coach of the year: Patty Gasso, Oklahoma|
|1B||Lauren Chamberlain||Oklahoma||Sr||.398||19||60||Big 12-high 66 runs|
|2B||Ari Hawkins||Baylor||So||.417||0||20||.500 on-base pct.|
|SS||Shelby Pendley||Oklahoma||Sr||.436||24||65||1.036 slugging pct.|
|3B||Tiffany Mikkelson||Okla. St.||Jr||.361||13||46||16 stolen bases|
|C||Whitney Ellis||Oklahoma||Jr||.314||3||24||13 doubles|
|OF||Shelby Davis||Okla. St.||Sr||.440||0||22||Big 12-high 45 SB|
|OF||Erin Miller||Oklahoma||Jr||.409||7||50||.506 on-base pct.|
|OF||Lindsey Stephens||Texas||Jr||.354||15||46||117 total bases|
|Util||Shelby Friudenberg||Baylor||Fr||.373||16||41||.768 slugging pct.|
|DP||Daniella Chavez||Kansas||Fr||.353||16||65||Big 12 RBI leader|
|Paige Parker||Oklahoma||Fr||24-5||199||1.45||Big 12 ERA leader|
|Heather Stearns||Baylor||Jr||19-11||218||2.46||League-high 4 saves|
|Erica Wright||Texas||Fr||18-7||172||2.32||.208 opponents batting|
|1B||Maddie Stein||Kansas||Sr||.368||6||41||Big 12-high 16 2B|
|2B||Lea Hopson||Texas Tech||Sr||.326||11||37||.452 on-base pct.|
|SS||Chaley Brickey||Kansas||Jr||.393||13||55||14 doubles|
|3B||Ashley Fultz||Texas Tech||So||.321||6||32||.436 on-base pct.|
|C||Kristi Belshe||Texas Tech||Sr||.333||3||18||.452 on-base pct.|
|OF||Kady Self||Oklahoma||Jr||.406||9||42||.490 on-base pct.|
|OF||Brittany Gomez||Iowa St.||Jr||.425||2||20||31 stolen bases|
|OF||Kaitlyn Thumann||Baylor||Sr||.344||0||18||12 stolen bases|
|Util||Devon Tunning||Texas||So||.331||6||24||9 doubles|
|DP||Linsey Hays||Baylor||Jr||.307||8||39||.533 slugging pct.|
|Alicia Pille||Kansas||Sr||23-6||184||2.90||Big 12-high 188 innings|
|Shelby Pendley||Oklahoma||Sr||12-1||64||2.33||.244 opponents batting|
|Gabby Smith||Texas||Sr||9-3||81||2.59||.228 opponents batting|
|* Statistics through regular season|
— Compiled by staff writer John Werner