There are fans at the Women's College World Series.
And then, there are addicts.
Among the thousands who pack Hall of Fame Stadium every spring, there are a devoted few who have come from afar to the series and have come year after year. They consider it their vacations. They take time off work. They clear their calendars to make it happen.
They are hooked on softball.
And they admit to the diagnosis.
Beazie Maurin became a WCWS addict in 2001 when her beloved LSU Tigers made the field and she made the trip.
“I had such a good time, I just make it my vacation,” she said. “The people of Oklahoma were just like Cajun people — ‘Welcome. Welcome. We're glad you're here.'”
Now, the Reserve, La., resident is here every spring, tailgating in the same spot just inside the stadium gates. She's so well known that when she pulled in Thursday morning, the parking attendants knew her.
Of course, they have good reason to remember; Beazie offers them food from her tailgate every year.
Now, even though her Tigers are gone, eliminated from this year's series after losing Saturday night, Beazie remains. You can find her tailgating near the Hall of Fame or cheering in Section 8.
Today, we celebrate the diehard fans.
They are WCWS junkies — and proud of it.
George and Beth Maley, Tucson, Ariz.
George Maley, 88, and his daughter Beth, 59, have attended the Women's College World Series every year for nearly a decade.
The Maleys, from Tucson, Ariz., meet every summer at Hall of Fame Stadium, with George's other daughter and son-in-law, Jim and Stephanie Buchs, who make a 10-hour drive from Cedar Falls, Iowa.
“We love softball,” Beth said. “We're huge softball fans. I've lived in Arizona for 30 years and have always loved the sport. It's a great opportunity to meet up with (the Buchs) and have a good time.”
Jim Buchs said the annual reunion in Oklahoma City has become a tradition they hope continues for years.
“My wife and I started coming because it became a family event,” Buchs said. “Not only do I get to spend time with my father-in-law, George, we get to the do the tourist things while we're in town.
“Our first one, we didn't really expect anything because we had never been before. Now it's the first thing we put on the calendar every year. We meet new people every year. We have friends we sit next to. Every year, we catch up on what's going on in each other's lives. It's a lot of fun.”
Lena Ramirez, Austin, Texas
Austin resident Lena Ramirez has attended the Women's College World Series 17 consecutive years. Like many fans who renew all-session WCWS tickets, she can't imagine a summer without making the drive up Interstate 35 to Oklahoma City.
“My father played softball for many, many years,” Lena said. “We've grown up with the sport, love the sport. My dad 17 years ago asked me if I wanted to go. I've been back every year since.”
Ramirez's passion for softball has been passed to the next generation. They own six WCWS seats in different sections.
“We got hooked,” Lena said. “We have three seats right behind home plate, some of the best seats in the house for such a great event.”
Over the years, Lena has made dozens of new friends and seen other softball converts make a similar commitment to attend every year.
“This is part of our vacation,” Lena said. “It started with just me and my mom and dad. Then we started bringing our nieces when they were around eight or nine. Now they come every year.
“We meet new people every year. You hook up with them the following year. It's basically our annual family reunion.”