OU Softball Seniors to Return in 2021

John. E. Hoover

The University of Oklahoma softball team has found a silver lining in all the chaos.

Three OU seniors announced on social media Thursday that, after a personally disappointing season had been cut short by the Coronavirus pandemic, they would be returning next year to “finish our career on our own terms.”

When the NCAA announced last week that spring sports seniors could return in 2021 if they wanted to, Giselle Juarez, Nicole Mendes and Shannon Saile jumped at the chance.

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Nicole Mendes (right)

The trio said Thursday night that they intended to be back next year and make things right.

“Entering this year, we were uncertain where it would lead us,” they wrote. “G was hurt (with a biceps injury) and Nicole was in the process of rehabbing a torn ACL. Shannon was the lone senior and leading the pitching staff. We thought we were not going to get to finish our year together.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to grow, it caused our season to come to an end. Recently, the NCAA granted the waiver to allow student-athletes in spring sports an additional year of eligibility. This allows each one of us the opportunity to finish our careers on our own terms.

“With that being said, we will be returning to finish with each other and the upcoming senior class.”

It’s a huge boost for coach Patty Gasso and the Sooners.

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Giselle Juarez

Juarez was a first-team All-American in 2019 after transferring from Arizona State, where she was a 2018 All-American. The 6-foot left-hander threw 186 1/3 innings last year with 269 strikeouts, a 28-4 record and a 1.39 earned run average.

Saile, a junior college transfer in 2019, threw 78 2/3 innings with 126 strikeouts, a 10-1 record and a 1.42 ERA last year and helped carry the Sooners to a 20-4 record in 2020.

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Shannon Saile

Mendes has been a valuable two-way player for the Sooners. Last year she hit .348 with six home runs, 39 RBIs and a .565 slugging percentage while pitching in nine games and posting a 4.50 ERA. In her previous three years at OU, Mendes hit .357 with 13 home runs, 78 RBIs and a .524 slugging percentage in 179 games.

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