Although the academic semester at Oklahoma Christian University ended this past May, the season for some sports across campus did not. Track and field, baseball and softball all continued their seasons into the summer after students left campus.
The softball team continued their dominant season post graduation. Lady Eagle softball, a perennial top 15 team in America all season, found themselves hosting a NCAA Division II regional only to be upset by Texas A&M Commerce at the end of their season.
The playoffs were not the only storyline for Oklahoma Christian softball over the summer. Head coach Shannon Hays left Oklahoma Christian for a Division I coaching opportunity at Grand Canyon University. Shalee Rodriguez, who has served as an assistant to coach Hays since 2019, will take his place leading the Lady Eagles this upcoming season.
Awards showered the team after the season. Brooklyn Bain, Kylie Janzen and Brianna Robinson all made the all-region second team. Kali Crandall was rewarded for her unbelievable year of pitching, winning conference pitcher of the year, all-region first team, and being named a Division II All American, the first ever in each reward for Oklahoma Christian softball. The team also brought in multiple academic awards both individually and as a team.
Baseball was also in action while students were away. After a breakout season leading the Lone Star Conference in home runs, the Eagles ended up placing fourth in a strong conference. Earning the right for home field advantage in the conference tournament, they faced
off against St. Mary’s University in the first round of the conference tournament. They went on to lose the first two games, ending their season.
Despite the way it ended, Oklahoma Christian brought home multiple individual and team awards. Michael Difiore won conference freshman of the year while Noah Bates, Chance Westervelt, Blake Empkey and Michael Difiore all made the all-conference first team. The team won the American Coaches Association academic excellence award in July.
Both women’s and men’s track and field also continued their season into the summer months. Competing in the Lone Star Conference Championships shortly after finals week, the women took ninth while the men took fifth.
The men went on to compete in the NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships in late May and placed 51st.
The 2020-2021 Oklahoma Christian athletic season was full of promise that was followed by disappointing endings. These teams carry high expectations into the 2021-2022 season, looking to alter the ending for the better.