Amanda Locke, one of six Alabama seniors who are making their third trip to the Women’s College World Series, slammed a go-ahead solo home run Friday night to lead the Crimson Tide to a 2-1 win over defending national champion Arizona State.
Locke and her ’Bama teammates are one win away from reaching the national finals for the first time in school history. Locke talked with The Oklahoman’s Mike Baldwin about her memorable homer and Alabama’s chances of ending the SEC’s drought of having never won a softball national title.
Q: Was the home run Friday night the biggest thrill of your career?
A: By far. It’s about winning regionals, super regionals and conference championships, but individually it was so exciting. It seriously was an exhilarating moment.
It was a no-doubter, a ball you crushed, but it appeared you weren’t 100 percent sure it was a home run.
I just put my head down and ran. I think that might be the fastest I’ve ever run around the bases. Around second (base) is the first time I realized it (was gone).
What are your emotions being one win away from the best-of-three final?
We have the most special team I’ve ever been on. Everybody is playing as one, playing for each other. We’re 20 hearts beating as one. There’s no doubt in my mind we’re going to take it all. I just believe in this team so much, the players, the coaches and support staff. We have something special.
Is there a conference-wide camaraderie that an SEC team will break through and win the title?
I think we’ve already made a statement having three SEC teams make the final eight here. The SEC is such an amazing, competitive conference to play in. It prepares you for a big stage like this. The SEC pitchers are great. The hitters are great. You’re very prepared.
How much does it help that the senior class has advanced to the WCWS three times?
We love Oklahoma City, the town, the people. They’re always welcoming us with open arms. The crowds are great here no matter who is playing. We have an amazing fan base back home. Yeah, this is a little bigger, OK a lot bigger. But being here for the third time, you have to feel as if everyone there is rooting for you. You have to enjoy it, embrace it. It’s such an incredible feeling.
BY MIKE BALDWIN