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Small Town, Big Stage
OKLAHOMA CITY- On June 8, the University of Oklahoma put on a masterclass, historic performance in their game one victory over the University of Texas at the NCAA’s Women’s College World Series.
The Sooners hit a WCWS record-breaking six home runs in their 16-1 total shellacking of the Longhorns. Superstars Jocelyn Alo and Tiare Jennings had two home runs each and combined for eight runs batted in.
OU would go on to win their sixth softball national title the following night.
Game one was such a magical night for the state of Oklahoma and during each part of the night, there was a touch of local flair.
Longtime Rush Springs resident, Lesa Foster, is the Oklahoma City Hope Lodge Senior Manager for the American Cancer Society. Each year since 2009, ACS has partnered with the NCAA to honor cancer survivors during game one of the WCWS with a “StrikeOut Cancer” event.
“Our American Cancer Society partnership with the NCAA has evolved over the years into one of the most special and meaningful nights of the year,” Foster said.
She leads the partnership from the ACS side, which has a vendor set up outside the stadium to pass out pink shirts to survivors. Signs are also available for everyone to write down a name to honor someone they know that was impacted by cancer.
Between the third and fourth inning, survivors walk onto the field and are recognized with a roaring ovation.
Foster said, “Being at the WCWS fulfills a bucket list for so many and StrikeOut Cancer brings together fans and survivors from across the nation to show that together we can defeat our biggest rival, cancer.”
Foster is also tasked with finding someone to sing the national anthem and throw out the ceremonial first pitch. This year’s national anthem singer was Nyli Brown, now a Mustang resident but grew up in Rush Springs. She is the daughter of Natalie Fitzpatrick and the granddaughter of Rick and Beth Fitzpatrick.
Being chosen to sing the national anthem at the WCWS was an honor for Nyli Brown.
“It meant the world to me that people liked my voice enough to sing about our country for all those people and to honor our soldiers and country,” Brown said.
As for the opportunity, she said it was “amazing and fun, yet nerve-wracking, but overall, an experience I’ll never forget.”
Our local area was also represented during the game. Playing for OU was Macy McAdoo, a pitcher from Tuttle and Lynnsie Elam, a catcher from Chickasha. Although McAdoo did not step on the field during the WCWS due to injury, she was still there to cheer on and rally her team.
McAdoo was honored to play for and be part of such a historic championship team.
“It felt amazing being able to be a part of the team because everyday we showed up to practice and got better as a whole. We pushed each other and supported each other on and off the field. It felt different from the beginning of the season because we all decided that there was going to be no pressure on us, so to the fact that we weren’t playing for our fans or accolades, but instead we were playing for an audience of one, and that was God,” McAdoo said.
When asked about what it means to represent and be an ambassador for not only the state, but Southwest Oklahoma as well, McAdoo said, “Being from Oklahoma has allowed me to show every small-town girl that they, too, can become whatever they want. It has also allowed me to show my teammates the state of Oklahoma and have them out at my family farms to show them how Oklahoma really is, and they love it.”
All in all, even on a massive, national stage that was the WCWS, our small town and local area rose to the occasion. To think about our local and surrounding communities having an impact at a national championship game is quite neat and inspiring. It proves that even on the big stage, small towns can shine bright.