During last Friday night’s Bedlam matchup between No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 13 Oklahoma State a generator was damaged and the lights in right center field suddenly went dead. Play was immediately halted in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Some may have considered the 17 minute delay a nuisance; an inconvenience; maybe even a potential distraction that could hinder the teams. But for the Cowgirls, Sooners, and an all-time attendance record setting crowd of 9,820 the party was just getting started.
To pass the time both teams came out of their dugouts, started cheering with fans, dancing with each other and alumnae in the stands, and making the most of that time. Simply, they enjoyed the moment together with their teammates, family, friends, and fans; they all paused and lived in the moment.
The teams and fans traded cheers and applause as the words “Boomer Sooner” and “Orange Power” filled the air. Soon, Oklahoma took to the outfield, making the rounds to their fans in different parts of the stadium. Then small dots of light started rapidly filling the stands, cell phone lights, of course.
It was everything that is “good” and fun about this game; it was joyous.
“It was pretty cool,” said Oklahoma Sooner, Nicole Mendes. “I think we were already having a party, but once the lights went out, we knew we had a chance to get the whole crowd in with us. Any time we get the crowd engaged with us, it makes it 10 times more fun.”
Some of the most common compliments you hear about collegiate softball (in addition to the amount of talent on the field) is how much fun these student-athletes have, the passion they play with, and how down to earth they can be.
We saw all of that on display during those 17 minutes, front and center. The teams could’ve just as easily sat in their dugout, ate some snacks, and waited out the delay. But they didn’t, and personally, it was one of the most memorable and coolest moments at this year’s Women’s College World Series.
No one wrote much about it, a couple Tweets and laughs were had while ESPN had to find ways to kill the otherwise “dead” air space. A few questions were asked during the post game press conferences and honestly, we may never hear much about it again. Yet, for those in the stadium who partook in cheers with their team of choice, shined their cell phone lights, really watched the joy that radiated from these athletes, and laughed when the stadium staff played Jason Aldean’s, “Lights Come On” as power was restored I don’t think it is anything they will soon forget.
Again, it was just everything good, pure, and joyous about this amazing sport and made even more special because it was under the lights on a beautiful summer night in Oklahoma City.
So until next year, NCAA Softball, leave the lights on for us.