NORMAN — As the Oklahoma softball team bus drove up to Journey Church in north Norman, the Sooners watched as a moving truck pulled out.
The truck drove from College Station courtesy of Aggies softball coach Jo Evans, her team and Aggie Nation.
There were boxes and boxes of clothes and toiletries, cases of water and diapers that made Oklahoma's Lauren Chamberlain and Brianna Turang talk over each other as they excitedly recalled the donations.
“That was awesome for them to do that,” Chamberlain said of the Aggies' donations.
Evans said they originally planned to carry the donations on the bus, but their fans brought so much that a local company donated the moving truck.
“In 1999, we were coming up to Oklahoma City for the Big 12 Tournament. A week prior, Moore got it. We saw the devastation and from what I understand, it's even worse this time,” Evans said. “We are humbled by the opportunity to do it and just heartbroken for these people.”
The Sooners helped unload the boxes of Texas A&M donations. They helped sort and organize and move items to a room for distribution.
“It was cool to see how quickly things were brought in and they were taken out immediately for people,” Chamberlain said.
The Sooners also went to Lowe's on Wednesday morning, where they helped unload trucks with donations.
“Right now softball seems very trivial,” OU coach Patty Gasso said. “I almost feel guilty being out on a field and being so blessed to have this opportunity to play. I almost feel somewhat guilty, but what we're going to do is hope that we can bring a little bit of entertainment and relief and distraction to families that need it.
“This team is locked in. We're ready to get after it. We've worked very hard throughout the season. We understand the magnitude of this weekend which is ‘All or go home.' We've talked about it as a team, and we're focused and going to give anything we have and leave everything we have on the field.”
RICKETTS AND CHAMBERLAIN FINALISTS FOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
OU's Keilani Ricketts and Chamberlain are two of the three finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award. The two Sooners are joined by Tennessee's Raven Chavanne as finalists for the award, which is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I softball.
The reigning Player of the Year, Ricketts currently ranks second in the country with 15 shutouts, eighth with a 1.21 ERA and 10th with 291 strikeouts and second with 15 shutouts. Chamberlain is the nation's leader in four individual categories, while no other player leads in more than two statistical categories. In addition to leading in slugging percentage (1.110), Chamberlain also tops the country in home runs per game (0.50), runs scored per game (1.41) and runs batted in per game (1.43).
The winner will be announced on May 28 at the athlete-only banquet before the start of the Women's College World Series.
ALABAMA COACH ASKS TWITTER FOLLOWERS TO DONATE TO OKLAHOMA
Alabama coach Patrick Murphy sat listening to the news about the tornado that struck Moore and flashbacked two years.
On April 27, 2011, an EF-4 tornado struck Tuscaloosa, Ala. It was the third time in a decade the town was hit.
Murphy's computer sat on his lap, and he decided to take the news and make something of it. Just before 9 p.m. on Monday, Murphy tweeted: “If all 19,734 followers donate $10 to the @redcrossokc, we could raise close to $200,000 for the people of Oklahoma. Let's do it!”
What he saw in response was an outpour of support from New Hampshire to Illinois, from Tennessee to Oregon. He's not sure how many of his followers donated, but there were more than 100 followers who tweeted at Murphy to tell him they donated, including former Arizona softball star Jennie Finch and ESPN broadcaster Holly Rowe.
“It takes three seconds to text, and it's such a small price to help,” Murphy told The Oklahoman. “It's the price of a lunch. I remember two years ago that the goods and stuff was great, but the money helped the victims the most.”
Alabama beat Oklahoma in the final game of last year's Women's College World Series, and he knows that might brings hard feelings, but the Crimson Tide coach said he wanted his supporters to give back to the people of Oklahoma who “always treated us so well when we come to the College World Series.”
“I felt they adopted us as a team some years when Oklahoma wasn't in it,” he said. “Maybe not, but there were some pro ‘Bama among the Boomer Sooner fans. They've treated us well every year. It's like seeing family again when we come.”
NEW MEXICO SOFTBALL GATHERS DONATIONS
New Mexico's softball team asked for donations from its fans and received cases of water, boxes of diapers and bags of clothes.
They also received games, pet food and blankets, according to a local New Mexico TV station.
COMPILED BY STEPHANIE KUZYDYM