OU Softball: How Oklahoma's Jayda Coleman Calmed Herself and Used 'Every Single Ounce' to Get to WCWS Finals

The Sooners' dynamic senior felt she had been letting her team down, but found her "foundation" to beat Florida and now gets to take on Texas one last time.
Oklahoma's Jayda Coleman

OKLAHOMA CITY — After Oklahoma lost to Florida on Monday night, Jayda Coleman had something to say.

“Did a great thing last night,” OU coach Patty Gasso said Tuesday. “Brought the team together and kind of apologized for stepping away from them. I felt her ownership, becoming a woman, just stepping up for this team today.”

Coleman’s passion — fiery, in-your-face, and above all, honest — is matched only by her elite athletic ability. On Tuesday at Devon Park, she combined those qualities with an epic shot of leadership and willed the Sooners to a 6-5 victory that eliminated the Gators and sent OU back to the Women’s College World Series Championship Series.

Coleman’s walk-off home run to start the eighth inning was the deciding blow. But really, it was a moment four years in the making.

“Jayda has been really fighting to help this team,” Gasso said. “She gets really frustrated when she doesn't. It does affect us a little bit.”

Coleman was 0-for-3 in Monday’s loss to the Gators, and she started Tuesday just 1-for-3 with a bunt single and a walk. She struck out in the first inning and popped up to short in the sixth.

“Yeah, I had been a little frustrated all game,” Coleman said. “Obviously I just want to do anything to help my team. I wasn't really able to do that.”

That is, until she picked up the bat to start the eighth inning. That’s when teammate Alyssa Brito put her right hand on Coleman’s shoulder and said a quick prayer. 

Whether God is a Sooner softball fan can be debated for time eternal. But what’s indisputable is that that moment — a gentle moment of caring and support from a friend and teammate — calmed Coleman down, gave her peace and allowed her to perform without angst, without frustration.

“Brito, she slowed me down and prayed over me,” Coleman said. “She was like, ‘Surrender it all. Don't try to control everything. Go for it. No matter what, I'm not justified by whatever the at-bat is.’

“Even though I hit a home run, Jesus still loves me. If I would have struck out, Jesus loves me, regardless.

“I think that put me into my foundation. It's awesome.”

After the home run, as the teams came onto the field, Coleman locked in a long embrace with Gasso, who spoke into Coleman’s right ear — even though neither of them recall exactly what was said.

“She doesn't remember and I don't remember,” Gasso said, “except really, Jayda came in, this girl has more energy than anyone I've ever seen in my life, and she uses every single ounce of it. When it's empty, it's empty. It's gassed. I mean, she lives life really, really hard — in a good way.

“Sometimes her and I — and she'll tell you — we've butted heads pretty good. I've had to discipline her a few times. She always responds.

“One thing I love about Jayda Coleman is she is so honest. Sometimes so honest you're like, ‘OK, don't say that out loud.’ But so honest that I know what I'm working with. So honest about our program that she will tell me things that maybe aren't going well. So honest that she'll tell me when no one else will.”

From Coleman’s perspective, she just appreciated her coach’s  unending support.

“Throughout the game, coach just kept telling me how much she believed in me,” she said. “I felt like I kind of kept letting her down in a way, letting this team down in a way. I was doing things I wouldn't really normally do. Just to be able to hug her in that moment. I'm not really sure what she said. I felt like I was crying into my mom's shoulder in that moment. Such relief.”

Coleman said she was determined to take her time in that particular at-bat because she had swung at the first pitch in her previous at-bat, got jammed and popped up. When Keagan Rothrock’s fastball on a 2-1 count stayed over the middle of the plate, a calm, centered Coleman simply pounced.

“Really get a pitch that I wanted to see,” she said. “I saw middle. I knew I needed to stay through the ball.”

The ball skied quickly, but as left fielder Korbe Otis drifted back, it looked like the wall might a bit be too far. But the wind at Devon Park had been blowing out to left all day. Otis contacted the wall and tried to time her jump, but the ball cleared her glove by six inches.

And kept alive OU’s push for a fourth straight national championship.

“Going around the bases, I lost it,” Coleman said. “Just started crying. Brito, just the presence that I felt with God, it was incredible. Incredible feeling.”

It was a moment that just about topped off one of the most decorated careers in the history of the sport. From Gatorade National Player of the Year as an OU signee to many-time World Series hero, Jayda Coleman’s story as a Sooner is almost written.


She still has one final series against No. 1 seed Texas, which starts Wednesday night at 7 p.m. (ESPN).

The 2-seed Sooners have a fourth national title in their sights, if only they can beat Texas two more times over the next three days.

And as always, Coleman will be right in the center of whatever happens.

“I just respect the heck out of her,” Gasso said. “I think she is an absolute elite athlete. If you just knew her, I mean, she's full of energy. That's really how she lives every day. She's like that at practice. When she's tired, she's tired.”

John E. Hoover


John is an award-winning journalist whose work spans five decades in Oklahoma, with multiple state, regional and national awards as a sportswriter at various newspapers. During his newspaper career, John covered the Dallas Cowboys, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Oklahoma Sooners, the Oklahoma State Cowboys, the Arkansas Razorbacks and much more. In 2016, John changed careers, migrating into radio and launching a YouTube channel, and has built a successful independent media company, DanCam Media. From there, John has written under the banners of Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, Fan Nation and a handful of local and national magazines while hosting daily sports talk radio shows in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and statewide. John has also spoken on Capitol Hill in Oklahoma City in a successful effort to put more certified athletic trainers in Oklahoma public high schools. Among the dozens of awards he has won, John most cherishes his national "Beat Writer of the Year" from the Associated Press Sports Editors, Oklahoma's "Best Sports Column" from the Society of Professional Journalists, and Two "Excellence in Sports Medicine Reporting" Awards from the National Athletic Trainers Association. John holds a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications from East Central University in Ada, OK. Born and raised in North Pole, Alaska, John played football and wrote for the school paper at Ada High School in Ada, OK. He enjoys books, movies and travel, and lives in Broken Arrow, OK, with his wife and two kids.