The balance of power in NCAA softball might be tilting back in a familiar direction with former Arizona State All-American pitcher Giselle Juarez's decision to transfer to Oklahoma.
In a tweet Sunday, Juarez confirmed she will join the Sooners, arguably the sport's highest-profile program. Oklahoma won three of the past six national championships and reached the Women's College World Series in nearby Oklahoma City in seven of the past eight seasons.
After some time of prayer and trust, I have decided to join the Oklahoma Sooners, I'm grateful for this opportunity and blessed to be a part of such an outstanding program! Can't wait for January, Go SOONERS #BoomerSooner pic.twitter.com/G1mh6ChBtY
- 'G' Giselle Juarez (@ggotgame45) November 11, 2018
The Sooners' hopes of a third consecutive title ended this past season in the World Series semifinals.
Now a junior, Juarez spent her first two college seasons at Arizona State. After battling injuries as a freshman, she emerged as one of the nation's best pitchers a season ago. She finished with a 22-6 record, 1.22 ERA and 305 strikeouts in 224 and 1/3 innings and led the Sun Devils to the World Series, where they were eliminated by Oklahoma in a pitching duel between Juarez and Paige Parker. A former member of the U.S. junior national team, Juarez spent the summer pitching for the Puerto Rican national team in hopes of competing in the 2020 Olympics.
Juarez is expected to be eligible to compete for Oklahoma as soon this season, which begins in less than three months. Softball players do not need to sit out a year when they're transferring out of conference as long as they receive a release from their previous school. An Oklahoma spokesperson said Monday they had yet to receive official documentation from the compliance office.
The addition of Juarez gives the Sooners a proven World Series-caliber pitcher as they attempt to move on from four-year ace Parker, whom coach Patty Gasso called the best pitcher in program history and who led the Sooners to two of their four national titles. The Sooners also added junior transfer Shannon Saile, a mid-major standout in her first two seasons at Florida International, and highly regarded freshman Brooke Vestal. But while both Saile and Vestal are right-handed pitchers, Juarez is a left-handed pitcher like both Parker and Keilani Ricketts, the two-time national player of the year whom Parker followed in the line of succession in Norman.
The Sooners return the core of their lineup, including senior All-Americans Caleigh Clifton, Shay Knighten and Sydney Romero and sophomore Jocelyn Alo, the national home run leader in 2018.
Lauren Chamberlain was one of many past and present Oklahoma players to welcome Juarez.
- Lauren Chamberlain (@LChamberlain44) November 12, 2018