Ex-shortstop transfers to become UA softball tormentor
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Softball vs San Diego State University
The old saying goes “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” and former Arizona softball star Shelby Pendley did just that, landing at Oklahoma after transferring from the UA.
Pendley left the team last month and on Jan. 24 the Sooners announced she had landed there. OU ended Arizona’s season in 2011 and 2012 in a dominant fashion.
Oklahoma knocked the Wildcats out of the tournament last year, sweeping UA 6-0 and 7-1 in Norman, Okla., in the Super Regionals. Pendley was hitless against OU. In 2011 in Tucson, the Sooners swept Arizona in the Super Regionals, 5-2 and 6-0.
“Yeah, it definitely stung, but I mean, she did what she had to do, what’s best for her, and we all respect that and we just can’t wait to play them and see [OU senior pitcher] Keilani [Ricketts] and all them again,” senior shortstop Brigette Del Ponte said about her picking Oklahoma.
Because she transferred to a Big 12 school, Pendley is eligible to play this season for No. 2 Oklahoma, which will face the Wildcats twice.
Arizona plays Oklahoma Feb. 21 at the Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs, Calif., and March 16 at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif.
“She’s a great player and I know everyone wishes the best for her and I can’t wait to play them,” said Del Ponte, Pendley’s defensive replacement.
Before Pendley was cleared, it had been rumored she was going to Oklahoma.
“The experience has been great,” Pendley said in a press release.
“The atmosphere, not just on campus, but also off campus, has been great. I love Oklahoma, the campus, the coaches … I just love this whole atmosphere. It’s very family-oriented, and that’s what I like.”
Oklahoma reached the championships at the Women’s College World Series last year but lost 2-1.
“We’re very pleased about the addition,” OU head coach Patty Gasso said in a press release. “Shelby is very athletic and versatile, so she helps solidify our infield at any position. She also has incredible strength at the plate.”
“I’ve got enough to worry about right now,” Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said when asked about Pendley.
Last year, as a freshman, Pendley was Arizona’s only All-Pac-12 first team selection, leading the team with 19 home runs, two shy of the UA freshman record set by Del Ponte in 2010.
Pendley started all 57 games at shortstop. She was one of just three Wildcats to start every game.
The Rio Rancho, N.M., native was No. 13 in the country last year in home runs and 30th in RBIs, with 55. Pendley led the team in slugging (.703) and home runs and was second in batting average (.331), total bases (121) and runs (39).
“She has so much power, which is one of our strengths already, so adding her to the lineup potentially is lethal,” Gasso said.
Arizona is ranked No. 13 in the preseason USA Today/NFCA released last week and No. 14 in the preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball poll released Tuesday.