OKLAHOMA CITY - As the California softball team participates in the Women's College World Series, CalBears.com will be giving periodic updates from Oklahoma City on this web page. Be sure to further follow the Golden Bears on their quest for the NCAA title on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for more photos, updates and inside information.
Tuesday, May 29:
Early, early a.m.:The Bears, coaches and staff members were split up over four flights departing from Oakland and San Francisco in the wee hours of the morning. Except those who flew out of Oakland, everyone assembled at Levine-Fricke Field to load the bus with a bevy of equipment bags, suitcases, and of course, a variety of stuffed animals for the flights out of SFO.
Evening: Once the bus had picked up the final travelers from the airport, everyone head to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for the annual team banquet, along with student-athletes, coaches and staff members from Alabama, Arizona State, LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Florida and Tennessee. Several of the Bears filmed short video segments for the video board at the WCWS. During the banquet, Jace Williams answered a question on stage, which you can watch here.
11 p.m. - Curfew: The Bears had time to unpack and get settled in their hotel while the coaches and staff members participated in the NCAA administrative meeting. After a long day of traveling and an exciting banquet, everyone was ready to turn in for the night. Flight delays and severe weather in Oklahoma City prevented some of the Bears and coaches from arriving in Oklahoma City until after midnight. Around 8:30 p.m. CT, a thunder storm hit Oklahoma City with hail so big it crushed windshields and rattled roofs. Luckily, the Bears who had made it to OKC were all safe inside. Baring more rain on Wednesday, the Bears will practice at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Wednesday, May 30:
Morning: The Bears enjoyed a delicious breakfast buffet at the hotel though some were more tired than others after the final flight of Bears (and Coach Ninemire!) arrived at the hotel at 2:30 a.m. local time. Though they had been scheduled to shoot video features with ESPN at 11 a.m., that got pushed back until the evening to ensure that all the Bears would be in Oklahoma City, and well rested.
11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.: Bears, coaches and staff headed to the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium for practice. First things first - bats went off to be tested. The Bears warmed up and did hitting drills on a practice field adjacent to the main field at the Stadium for an hour. Then it was time to get on that hallowed ground with 55 minutes of practice time on the field where the Women's College World Series is held. After practice, the team headed back to the hotel for lunch and to get ready for the ESPN shoot.
3 p.m.: With the team back at the hotel, Coach Ninemire and Valerie Arioto grabbed lunch nearby for they had a 3 p.m. press conference. Quotes from that will be available later today. Coach and Val joined the head coaches and student-athlete representative from LSU, Oklahoma and USF.
4:30 p.m.: The All-America selections came out with Valerie and Jolene being named first-teamers and Jamia making the second team. To read the full release on that, please click here. To see the video announcement on it from the NFCA, please click here.
5 p.m.: The Bears are back off to the field area, this time to shoot features and intros with ESPN. Three Bears - Frani Echavarria, Jace Williams and Britt Vonk - did interviews with NCAA.com for a series of fun, getting to know you Q&As. The Henderson sisters also met with NCAA.com for a feature on their sisterly love. The Bears took turns shooting intros or talking lineups with ESPN - saying their name, where they are from and a fun fact. For example, "I'm Mary Lee, I'm from San Diego, and my dad went to Cal so I've been a Golden Bear all my life." Following the ESPN interviews, the team headed to a delicious dinner at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill. During a break at dinner, three freshmen filmed videos on what it's like being at the Women's College World Series... Watch Nikki Owens here, watch Danielle Henderson here and Cheyenne Cordes here. After dinner, some opted for the traditional Cal softball trip to Walmart before adjourning to the hotel for the night.
Thursday, May 31:
Finally! It's gameday! The Bears had breakfast at the hotel - per usual - and had plenty of time to grab lunch (many opted for the Subway right down the street) and get ready for the game. We departed at noon, and ESPN was waiting to film our exit off the bus. Did anyone see it? Cal warmed up with some BP, running, stretching and throwing on an adjacent practice field while we waited for the Oklahoma-USF game, which went long, to end. From there, it was game time!
You can read the recap of the game here, check out what was said in both the LSU and Cal press conferences here and read post-game notes here. Following the presser, Frani, Coach, Jamia and Jolene headed to the ESPN trailer to film some videos. Producers asked the student-athletes and coach about the win over LSU and that footage will during the broadcast of our game versus Oklahoma. In between videos, CalBears.com grabbed some video with the three Bears (watch Jolene's here and Frani's here) with a special treat of Coach interviewing Jamia, which you can see here.
The student-athletes were on their own for dinner and many opted to eat with their families that made the trek to OKC. The great thing about staying downtown is there is a bevy of delicious restaurants within walking distance. We're also near the arena and there was a lot of Thunder hype with the game tipping off this evening. From there, it was curfew time. Luckily it wasn't too hot - by Oklahoma in May standards - today but tomorrow will be very important!