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OU softball: Captain Lynnsie Elam embracing opportunities despite changes in role with Sooners

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Lynnsie Elam

Senior catcher Lynnsie Elam during the game against Liberty in the Hall of Fame Tournament at the USA Softball Hall Of Fame Stadium on March 14.

With Lynnsie Elam at the plate, No. 1 Oklahoma (22-0) was looking to take an early lead over Team Mexico and capture its second win of the three-game series.

The senior catcher entered the batter’s box with the score tied at zero and the bases empty in the bottom of the second inning. Elam patiently waited, and on the fourth pitch of the at-bat she launched a towering blast over the center field wall to put OU up, 1-0.

Elam went 4-for-4 in the first game of the series, leading the Sooners in both hits and RBIs in the contest. She helped OU secure an 11-0 win over the Olympic-bound Team Mexico. Then her home run in game two delivered one of OU's crucial scores in a 2-1 victory to clinch the series.

“I couldn’t ask for a better example or role model on how to handle adversity.” head coach Patty Gasso said Wednesday. “She has been hitting well but this lineup is so loaded that you could be hitting .340 and everyone else is in the .400’s and .500’s. She’s hung in there, handled it well, and got her opportunity and made the most of it.”

For Elam, making big plays in big moments hasn’t been uncommon in her college career. The Chickasha, Oklahoma native has been the starting catcher the past two years for the Sooners. She started all 24 games in the 2020 season, hitting a career-best .293 with nine home runs and 22 RBIs before COVID-19 cut the year short. 

Following the return of college softball in 2021, Elam hasn’t been in her usual role. With the talent Gasso has on the Oklahoma roster, finding playing time can be tough, and Elam has been splitting time behind the plate with sophomore Kinzie Hansen. Elam has started 10 games at catcher this season compared to Hansen’s 12.

“We make each other better,” Hansen said Wednesday. “When I saw her doing what she did this weekend I was just so happy for her. Having her has been one of the best things possible.”

Since chances can be hard to come by, when Elam got hers over the weekend, she delivered. Playing on the country’s No. 1 team comes with competition and Elam is embracing her new role, regardless of how many innings she gets.

Elam earned the start in all three games of the series, going a combined 6-for-9 with five RBIs including the solo home run. It was obvious that her efforts played a huge role in the Sooners sweep.

Because of her attitude, Elam is respected by her coaches and teammates so much that she was named a captain for the 2021 season, something voted on by the staff and players. It was her second consecutive year being named captain for the Sooners and she’s the first catcher to receive the honor since Jessica Shults in 2013.

“It means the world to me that my team would think so much of me to name me captain. There are so many leaders, that ‘C’ doesn’t mean I am the ruler by any means but it means a lot to me. I just try to show up each day and lead the best I can.”

Moving forward, Oklahoma will open Big 12 play this weekend with a three game series at Iowa State (22-5). The Cyclones will be a tough test and anyone could be called upon to contribute, including Elam.

But Elam isn’t caught up on the stats in the box score. She’s focused on helping OU win, however she can contribute, and tries to encourage her teammates to do the same.

“When we get opportunities we just need to relax and make the best of them.” Elam said. “We are all gonna be in a spot to help this team win eventually and we just have to make the best of those chances.

“This lineup is insane and so fun to be a part of. I know we are going to need all of us to win and need different people on different days. You just have to make the most of your opportunities.”

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