OKLAHOMA CITY — Mike Lotief’s got a few items on his checklist ahead of formulating a pitching plan for the next couple days.
“We’re going to go get something to eat,” he said of the first to-do.
All right, so Louisiana-Lafayette’s coach may be kidding a tad, but an attempt at comedy underscores his logic: He’s not — at least vocally — divulging any intent to plan further ahead than facing Oklahoma.
For now, the Ragin’ Cajuns (49-9-1) plan to again turn the ball over to Christina Hamilton against the Sooners (50-12) at 1:30 p.m. in Saturday’s elimination game — the first of a potential four over the next two days.
“My mind is not trying to figure out how we get to (next) Wednesday (the possible third game in the championship series),” Lotief said.
If UL-Lafayette knocks off the Sooners, they would face Oregon game at 8:30 p.m. Saturday as the bracket does a flip.
“I don’t even know the schedule for tomorrow,” Lotief said. “That’s how your mind works, but that’s not how my mind works. You all think I’m joking, but that’s not what we’ve done all year.”
Hamilton (29-3, 1.54 ERA) didn’t tax her arm in a 4-1 loss to Kentucky, either. The 114 pitches thrown by the redshirt junior aren’t entirely out of the norm. The Rosepine native has surpassed 110 pitches in eight starts this season.
Granted, she hasn’t pitched a doubleheader since March. Fittingly, it was a pair of wins over the Sooners.
“I can ask her, ‘You feeling all right? You rolling? Everything good?’ ” Lotief said. “If she says she can’t go anymore, then we’ll go onto the next plan. But right now, it’s not even a consideration.”
For now, Hamilton said she hasn’t considered adjusting how she’ll prepare, while coaches and trainers have let go about a normal routine.
“Not really,” Hamilton said. “They tell me what to do. If it’s, ‘Christina, go get an ice bath,’ then I’m like, ‘Yes, sir. I’ll go do that.’ ”
Pendley versatile for OU
Lauren Chamberlain at the plate and Kelsey Stevens dealing from the circle headline the Sooners.
But Shelby Pendley is the jack of all trades for OU.
The junior, who transferred from Arizona, is batting .429 with 17 RBIs and 74 home runs. But in a pinch, the third baseman can spell a pitching staff short on depth.
Pendley, who never pitched in college during a standout prep career at Rio Rancho High in New Mexico before this season, has a 1.73 ERA in 21 appearances — all but one of which has come in relief.
And she made her collegiate debut back in March against UL-Lafayette, a 7-0 loss where Gasso said the Sooners were “getting our clocks cleaned.” How much had she prepared ahead of hurling two shutout innings at Lamson Park? Just two bullpen sessions.
“I threw her in to hope we don’t get run-ruled, and she saved us,” Gasso said Wednesday. “From that moment on, she became a reliable pitcher on our staff.”
Sooners offense stymied
Pendley may have staked the Sooners to a quick 1-0 lead Thursday, but OU’s offense didn’t muster another hit Thursday.
Alabama ace Jaclyn Traina certainly played a role, considering she struck out nine batters.
But OU’s approach at the plate was flawed, too. Out of 124 pitches thrown by Traina, barely half were strikes, leaving Gasso critiquing discpline.
“I don’t think we did a good job of swinging at strikes,” Gasso said. “We started chasing things out of the zone. But a good pitcher can deceive you that way ,and that’s what she’s very good at.”
The Sooners’ swings didn’t punish Traina for issuing five walks, and Chamberlain said OU’s urgency waned in some trips to the plate.
“We just kind of got late in the game thinking, ‘It’s gonna come,’ ” Chamberlain said. “It’s go time from here on out. Every team is good here, so I don’t think you can take a pitch off.”
Follow Matthew Harris on Twitter: @MHarrisAdvocate.