OU softball: Freshmen pitchers getting opportunity for Sooners while Giselle Juarez recovers from injury
NORMAN — OU’s freshman pitchers have been thrown into the spotlight early, and they’re taking advantage of it.
Giselle Juarez only pitched two-thirds of an inning last weekend, and the senior has only appeared in 2 2/3 innings so far this season. In her place, freshmen pitchers Macy McAdoo, Olivia Rains and Alana Thiede have all gotten chances to pitch over No. 3-ranked OU’s first two tournaments.
The young Sooners have gotten more opportunities than they otherwise would have because Juarez has been injured. Juarez didn’t throw at all during the fall because of a biceps injury. She has been cleared to play, coach Patty Gasso said, but she still does not feel 100%.
“Everyone has participated above and beyond trying to buy some more time for Giselle to get back,” Gasso said.
One of those opportunities came against Arizona. McAdoo started in the circle and threw 4 2/3 innings, giving up four hits and four runs while striking out one. She was excited to get the start against the then-No. 4-ranked team in the country.
Rains entered the game in the fifth inning. She pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings.
“Sometimes it's uncomfortable throwing a player in the fire the way we did, but, with Giselle’s inability to be on the mound, I had no choices,” Gasso said. “And Olivia just pretty much said, 'I got nothing to lose. I just got to go out and go after it.'
“And that's the first time I've seen her look like the pitcher that I know that we recruited.”
Rains and McAdoo are both from Oklahoma and have known each other for a long time. They’re roommates this year. Sharing the circle against Arizona made their bond even stronger.
“Us both going out there Saturday and dominating kind of brought us even closer together and kind of kept us on the same page of we’re in here to do it together,” McAdoo said. “We’ve got to work together. We’ve got to celebrate together. We have to do it all together to get the end result.”
OU faces another challenge this weekend at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City, California. They’ll play No. 2-ranked Washington on Saturday in addition to playing Nebraska, Texas A&M, Seattle, and Wisconsin over the course of the weekend.
Pitching will be important again in those matchups. Rains and McAdoo have already pitched 10 and 16 1/3 innings respectively this season. The Nutter Classic gives them another chance to get early experience against teams they could face in the postseason.
“The fact of how they responded has been huge for us,” Gasso said of her young pitchers. “If they go in scared or uncomfortable or uncertain, it's going to get us ... I've been really happy with the results thus far.”
OU vs. Nebraska
When: 12:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, Cathedral City, Calif.
Radio: 1560 AM