OKLAHOMA CITY — Jayda Coleman had an up and down Women’s College World Series, but her star shined bright when it mattered most.
As Oklahoma beat Florida State 5-1 on Thursday to clinch its fifth National Championship at Hall of Fame Stadium, the freshman phenom went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, including a second inning bomb to put OU up 2-0.
Despite going 9-for-28 for the week, Coleman never let the adversity get to her.
“We've been resilient since I stepped on campus just with COVID and just with all the things that we've had to go through,” Coleman said after the game.
It should come as no surprise that Coleman was poised beyond her years in OU’s biggest moment, as it’s something she’s done all year long. She prepared like she expected to be playing for a National Championship because those are the standards at Oklahoma, she said.
“It was high expectations, but you know that when you commit here and when you sign here you have very high expectations,” she said. “This is my dream, and to do it my freshman year, now I've just got to keep doing it, not give up and just keep working.
“I knew I believed in this team that we were going to do it, but to actually do it, I just, like, want to cry.”
OU head coach Patty Gasso hopes it will only be the beginning, as every player except Shannon Saile, Giselle Juarez and Nicole Mendes are eligible to return next season. Surviving the gauntlet in Oklahoma City and winning six straight elimination games is a feeling Gasso said she hopes will prepare this team for runs to come.
“Finding and feeling what it takes to pull this off, is invaluable,” Gasso said.
Mendes, who also won a national title as a freshman, expects the experience to propel the team and this Oklahoma freshman class to new heights.
“For this freshman class, they stopped being freshman in the fall. They are so talented and they are so confident, and they play the game with such grace and maturity that I don't even think of them as freshmen. Moving forward, they have three more years of this, and the talent that's coming in is only better,” Mendes said. “I just think Coach has done a great job building this program, not just for this year or next year but for the future.
“(I’m) definitely am ready to watch them and see what they do, because getting to be in these games and getting to win these games and have a season like this whenever they're juniors and seniors, that season mentality, that experience is going to help them in more ways than they can count. “
But for now, sitting at the postgame press conference in her 2021 National Champions shirt, Coleman said she’s just going to soak the feeling in with her teammates who she leaned on all year long.
“Let's trust in each other and let's keep on moving and let's just fight, fight to the end,” she said. “I can't believe I'm sitting here right now actually having this hat on and this shirt.”