Despite earning All-American status as a high school senior, Shannon Saile went unnoticed before opting to continue her career in her home state at Florida International. Playing with a chip on her shoulder, the right-handed pitcher burst onto the scene as a workhorse for the Panthers. Stepping into the circle to face a perennial giant in the nationally ranked Florida Gators, Saile delivered a complete game shutout to secure the win officially placing her on the map.
Garnering the attention of others, Saile opted to transfer in order to prove she belongs on the D-I level while looking to compete for a National Championship. Initially, FIU blocked the request before granting the pitcher a release a month later. However, the university restricted Saile from playing for another school in the state of Florida. The move immediately eliminated a few favorites from landing the talented hurler.
Forced to look elsewhere, Saile eventually connected with the Oklahoma Sooners and Patty Gasso. Needless to say, the rest is history as the RHP cemented herself in the rotation.
As a member of possibly the deepest pitching staff in the country, Saile’s on-the-field identity takes form as ‘the closer’ as she has 4 saves on the year. The number ranks eighth in the country. Yet, an argument can be made that the righty is the most underrated player in the nation.
Clearly, the most recognizable name in the bullpen remains Giselle Juarez. An All-American and transfer from Arizona State, the lefty overshadows her counterparts. Expected to anchor a program hoping to return to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series, Juarez shoulders a majority of the responsibility. The simple fact shows up on the stat sheet as the ace has tossed a team high 85.1 innings from the circle.
Stepping in to relieve the likes of Juarez and Oklahoma ‘s second option, Mariah Lopez, Saile provides a change of pace. Utilizing a flurry of pitches, the junior continues to find success regardless of the opponent and situation. The idea is evidenced in Saile’s nation leading 12.7 strikeouts per seven innings pitched. In 50.1 innings of work, the hurler racked up 91 strikeouts. If it hasn’t been said yet, the RHP certainly belongs on this level of competition!
It’s hard to imagine a player with these numbers and ratios would be anything but the top option in a rotation. Regardless, it’s the case at the University of Oklahoma leaving Saile as the most underrated player in the country…at least in my humble opinion.