Norman, Okla. (BP) – The Oklahoma University softball team will attempt to win the Women’s College World Series for the third consecutive year on Thursday night (June 8). Yet, the team’s players are keeping their “eyes up,” on a different prize, Jesus Christ.
When asked how the team has kept their joy under the pressure of a long season, senior infielder Grace Lyons pointed to Christ without hesitation.
“The only way that you can have a joy that doesn’t fade away is from the Lord,” Lyons said in a press conference Tuesday, June 6.
“Any other type of joy is actually happiness that comes from circumstances and outcomes. Joy from the Lord is really the only thing that can keep you motivated, in a good mindset no matter the outcomes. Thankfully we’ve had a lot of success this year, but if it was the other way around, joy from the Lord is the only thing that can keep you embracing those memories, moments, friendships and all of that. That’s really the only answer to that because there’s no other way that softball can bring you that because of how much failure comes in it and how much of a roller-coaster the game can be.”
After their 5-0 shutout win over Florida State on Wednesday night (June 7), the Sooners are one game away from winning the best-of-three World Series, cementing a Championship three-peat. That feat has only been accomplished one time since the establishment of the tournament by UCLA from 1988-1990.
The Sooners’ win Wednesday was their 52nd win in a row during this season. The team has an overall record of 60-1. The team has been heavily favored to win the World Series all season, with some media outlets even calling an eventual win in the tournament “inevitable.”
These expectations most likely arose from OU’s recent success. The team achieved a record of 56-4 in 2021, and 59-3 in 2022, winning the NCAA World Series both years.
Yet, even after the back-to-back championships, junior outfielder Jayda Coleman wondered why she didn’t feel satisfied.
“I was so happy that we won the college world series, but I didn’t feel joy,” Coleman said.
“I didn’t know what to do the next day. I didn’t know what to do for that following week. I didn’t feel filled and I had to find Christ in that. I think that is what makes our team so strong is that, we’re not afraid to lose because it’s not the end of the world if we do lose. Yes, obviously we worked our butts off to be here and we want to win. But it’s not the end of the world because our life is in Christ and that’s all that matters.”
Coleman could be seen Wednesday night celebrating with her teammates after making one of the spectacular plays of the game.
After the ball bounced behind her in centerfield, she grabbed the ball and launched it with pinpoint accuracy to the glove of an OU infielder to easily tag the Seminole runner out in a no-bounce throw that would make baseball legend Bo Jackson proud.
Another place to see Coleman celebrating with her teammates is on her Instagram page, where photos at the top of her profile show her being surrounded by fellow Sooners while being baptized this March.
One more night of spectacular plays by the Sooners could help the team walk away with their third straight NCAA trophy, but junior Alyssa Brito acknowledges the most important thing for them is keeping their focus on God.
“I think a huge thing that we’ve really just latched on to is ‘eyes up,’” Brito said.
Players can often be seen making two circles with their hands, putting them over their eyes like goggles and subsequently pointing to the sky after making a big play.
“And you guys see us doing this and pointing up, but we’re really fixing our eyes on Christ. Like they were saying, you can’t find a fulfillment in an outcome whether it’s good or bad. I think that’s why we’re so steady in what we do, in our love for each other and our love for the game because we know this game is giving us the opportunity to glorify God. Once we figured that out and everyone was all in with that, it’s really changed so much for us.
“I know myself … once I turned to Jesus and I realized how he had changed my outlook on life, not just softball … but understanding how much I have to live for. That brings so much freedom. No matter the outcome, whether we get a trophy in the end or not, this isn’t our home. We have an eternity of joy with our Father. Yes, I live in the moment, but I know this isn’t my home and no matter what my sisters in Christ will be there with me in the end when we’re with our King,” said Brito.
Oklahoma will attempt to win said trophy in game two of the Women’s College World Series against Florida State Thursday night. The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 7:30 Eastern Time.