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The University of Oklahoma women’s softball team surprised ESPN Thursday by proclaiming that their Christian faith is their motivation and the source of their joy.
Later on Thursday, the team went on to beat Florida State 3 to 1 to win the national championship.
“You talked about keeping the joy of the game, but I’m curious, it’s a long season, right? And you guys have had the target on your back the entire time,” an ESPN reporter asked several women on the team at a press conference Thursday.
“How do you handle the unique pressure that comes with that? How do you keep the joy for so long when anxiety seems like a thing that could very easily set in?”
“Well, the only way that you can have a joy that doesn’t fade away is from the Lord,” infielder Grace Lyons responded.
— Florida Grand (@florida_grand) June 8, 2023
“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,” Lyons said. “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 just how much of a rollercoaster the game can be.
“1000% agree with Grace Lyons,” said utility player Jayda Coleman.
Coleman said that when the team won the championship her freshman year, she was “so happy,” but she “didn’t feel joy.”
“I didn’t know what to do the next day … I didn’t feel filled, and I had to find Christ in that,” Coleman said.
Coleman said she thinks that what makes the team so strong is that they are not afraid to lose.
“Yes obviously we’ve 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 said.
Alyssa Brito, another utility player, said she and her teammates have focused on a gesture they call “eyes up.”
“We’re really like, fixing our eyes on Christ,” she said.
“You can’t find fulfillment in an outcome, whether it’s good or bad,” Brito said. “I think that’s why we’re so steady in what we do and our love for each other and our love for the game because we know this game is giving us the opportunity to glorify God.”
Brito said that once she “turned to Jesus,” her outlook on life as well as on softball changed, and she understood “how much I have to live for, and that’s living to exemplify the kingdom.”
“I think that brings so much freedom,” she said.
“We have an eternity of joy with our Father, and I’m so excited about that,” she said. “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.”
This is Oklahoma’s third straight victory in the Women’s College World Series. They snagged the championship title in the second game of the three-game series.
The team also finished with a division-winning record of 61 to 1 games, and they are coming off a 53-game winning streak.