Caleigh Clifton was age 8 when she heard the names of Oklahoma softball players being announced at the stadium across the street from her game in Reaves Park.
She looked at her dad and said, “That's going to be my name announced one day.”
On Tuesday, Wayne High School's sophomore shortstop heard her name announced during the first- and second-round state tournament games before losing to Rattan 12-1. In three springs, the location of Clifton's games will change to Marita Hynes Field, home of the OU Sooners. Clifton is already committed to the Sooners, but on Tuesday, she was just trying to win state.
“It's a relief,” her mother Marina Clifton said of her daughter's commitment.
Caleigh Clifton began to learn more about OU coach Patty Gasso and through her two travel coaches, who she said both played at Oklahoma.
Now the family is hoping older sister, Chloe Clifton, a junior pitcher for the Bulldogs, will be recruited by a university.
Chloe Clifton said her younger sister has been an inspiration to her to work harder.
Softball has come a bit more naturally for Caleigh Clifton, who has a laser of a throwing arm and a fluid motion to first, a lot like the Sooners' Jessica Vest's throw.
“She's had some sort of ball in her hand since she was in diapers,” Marina Clifton said of Caleigh.
Caleigh Clifton is a humble, smiling 15-year-old who loves hanging with friends and is about to start decorating her room in Oklahoma swag — now that she has her own room.
She used to share with Chloe, but the two did decorate the door with Oklahoma posters.
“I idolize them,” Caleigh Clifton said of the Sooners.
When she's not playing travel ball or school ball, she's at Oklahoma's home games.
“I'm excited not just to play there, but to go to school there,” Caleigh Clifton said. “I've heard that Coach Gasso really teaches you a lot.”
On Tuesday, though, she was focused on what was to come immediately next — the possibility of a slowpitch state title. She helped Wayne to a fast-pitch state championship last fall.
In the opening round of the tournament she walked to the pitcher's circle and said a few words to her older sister to calm her down. The Bulldogs ended up winning 18-13, despite a large amount of errors committed on both sides.
Caleigh Clifton also did the dirty work — reaching base behind two errors, two doubles and a single.
Yet in the final game of her sophomore state tournament, Caleigh Clifton and her team scored only one run. Luckily for the Sooners, she still has a few years before she'll have to help OU in a game at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
“I'll be at all the College World Series games,” Caleigh Clifton said of this year's postseason for the Sooners.