OKLAHOMA CITY — The NCAA postponed Friday’s softball games at the Women’s College World Series until Saturday after severe weather — including tornados — in the Oklahoma City area.
The University of Washington, which had its game against Tennessee postponed until 9 a.m. (PDT) Saturday, was one of at least six teams that sought shelter at the Cox Convention Center, where there is an underground parking garage, or in the tunnels that connect the center to hotels in downtown Oklahoma City.
“It’s kind of weird because you know there’s craziness going on above you, but you can’t see it. You can’t hear it,” UW coach Heather Tarr said in a phone interview. “You’re just like, ‘What is going on? What’s happening?’ ”
Each of the teams reported that their players and coaches were safe and accounted for despite a frightening experience.
“We had a couple girls in tears, so they were pretty scared,” Tarr said. “You just try to stay together and not let anybody get lost, first of all, in the basement and make sure everybody just stays close and just hope that everybody is safe around us.”
Tarr said the Huskies had volunteered to work with a church earlier in the week, helping people who were affected by a deadly tornado that struck May 20 in Moore, an Oklahoma
“It was a really rewarding experience for our team to go and try to help anybody that was in need,” Tarr said.
“After seeing what a tornado can do to a neighborhood and a community, I think our team was even that much more fearful of what was happening tonight.”
Nebraska’s players and coaches took shelter twice, going to the parking garage for about 45 minutes before emergency personnel allowed them to go back to the hotel. They later went back to the parking garage for another 15 minutes.
Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said her team stayed in the garage for about 2 hours and gained peace of mind by being with their families and fans.
“Tonight, softball takes a back seat because we know so many were not as fortunate to have the shelter that we did,” Hutchins said in a statement. “Please keep the people of Oklahoma in your thoughts.”
The new schedule calls for Washington to play Tennessee, followed by the second winners’ bracket game between top-seeded Oklahoma and rival Texas. Later Saturday, there will be two elimination games: Florida against Nebraska, followed by Michigan against Arizona State.
On Sunday, there will be two elimination games, followed by two games between the four remaining teams.
Any if-necessary elimination games — which had been scheduled for Sunday night — would be played Monday, and the best-of-three finals would then start Tuesday. Otherwise, the finals will start Monday as planned.