OKLAHOMA CITY >> The clear blue sky above ASA Hall of Fame Stadium today offered little hint of the chaos the night before.
After a harrowing night of severe storms in central Oklahoma, the Women’s College World Series resumed, beginning with a pair of winners’ bracket games, in which Tennessee beat Washington 1-0 and Oklahoma routed Texas 10-2.
Those games had been scheduled for Friday night, but instead, at least six of the eight teams in the NCAA softball championship rode out the storms at the Cox Convention Center, which has an underground parking garage, and in the tunnels that connect it to hotels in downtown Oklahoma City.
“We could kind of tell throughout the whole week that possibly there was going to be this happening, so I think the whole team was mentally prepared for it,” Washington coach Heather Tarr said. “You just deal with these things like any sort of team event that happens or any sort of adversity in the games. We just deal with it as a team and compensate and adjust and work together to stay together.”
The toughest part, Tennessee third baseman Raven Chavanne said, might have been trying to sleep.
“The thunder was booming all night and I know a bunch of us heard that,” Chavanne said.
Tennessee pitcher Ellen Renfroe said players were concerned about “our families who weren’t at the hotel with us. It was more being nervous about other people. But for our players, I think we all stayed together and we were pretty calm all around.”
Washington’s team took a boom box with them to the parking garage and stayed pretty relaxed.
“In terms of delays, we’re from Seattle, so we’ve experienced rain, but not to that extent,” Washington second baseman Kelly Suguro said. “This is softball. You play outside. So you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
When Tracy Schneweis, the turf manager at the stadium, left the facility about 11:30 p.m. Friday, he said he thought there would be games played Saturday. He just didn’t know when, considering the amount of rain that fell. According to the Oklahoma Mesonet, 7.08 inches of precipitation was recorded at nearby Spencer.
Schneweis arrived at the stadium at 5:30 a.m. By 6:30, there were about 30 people working either on the main field or the stadium’s auxiliary fields, where the teams were scheduled to start practicing at 9 a.m.
“It was a trial by fire,” Schneweis said.
Grounds workers first removed the tarp from the main field and liked what they saw on the infield.
“The infield skin is great right now,” Schneweis said. “We had it covered all night. The tarp did its job. It served its purpose. That’s wonderful. You always wonder, with that much rain coming down, if it’s going to seep up or run back under there. Thankfully for us, it didn’t, so that way we could focus on the outfield.”
He estimated that “90 percent of the outfield is in very good shape. The other 10 percent, all things considered, is in really good shape. . Nothing is unsafe at this point.”
In the 45 minutes before the game, members of the grounds crew used vacuums on wet spots in the outfield, particularly by the warning track, which Schneweis said tends to hold water. The grounds crew also had to clean out the dugouts, which flooded, to prepare them for the teams.
“I’m just glad we’re playing ball,” he said.