Game #1 of the Championship Series: Oklahoma vs. Auburn
Above: The ASA Stadium, northeast of Oklahoma City. This was my home for several days in early June.
I went to bed late last night after the game, so I got up late again, around 10 a.m. Watching 14 softball games in four days was really starting to wear on me, and I still had at least two more to go!
After spending a few hours in my motel room doing data backups and organizing my computer files, I drove into nearby Edmond to run a few errands. First I stopped at Staples and picked up my ExtremeGeographer.com travel cards, which I’d ordered online a few days earlier.
I also went to Best Buy to get a power adapter for my 5 TB external hard drive. I'm carrying several external hard drives with me on my road trip, totaling about 20 TB, because I have lots of video, like around 300 MP4 movies and dozens of TV shows (Mad Men, Manhattan, The Newsroom, etc), plus I shoot a lot of pictures. Managing my files and making backups of everything is critical and I spend a lot of time on it, because if my data suddenly disappeared, it would be a huge problem. Like HUGE.
It’s pretty easy to find things in Oklahoma City because most streets are laid out in a grid pattern and many streets are numbered sequentially. I haven’t had any trouble yet navigating around Oklahoma City, and no, I don’t use a GPS when I drive. Some people are surprised by that, considering my background in computer mapping, but I like to navigate the old fashioned way by using a paper map and my wits. It helps keep me sharp instead of relying on some digital map telling me where to turn.
After my errands, I dropped by the motel late in the afternoon to drop everything off and to try the power adapter on my 5 TB hard drive. I set the settings on the adapter correctly and, with some trepidation, plugged it into my hard drive. My heart skipped a few beats when the hard drive light flashed erratically and so I quickly unplugged it. Fortunately, no damage was done, but the power adapter obviously didn’t work with my hard drive, so I decided to return it to Best Buy. It could've easily fried my big hard drive, which would've been a huge problem. Like HUGE.
After packing up my stuff, I headed over to the ASA Stadium to watch the first game of the Championship Series between Auburn and Oklahoma. The shuttle bus was packed with Sooners fans wearing red and a few Auburn fans wearing orange, but everyone got along well, as everyone had all week. That's another thing that separates women's sports from men's sports, and it's another reason I've always been a big fan of women's sports. Anyway, I was probably one of the few people on the bus who didn’t really care who won.
After we got to the stadium, I walked into the NCAA team tent outside the gates where they sell tons of overpriced apparel and I bought a t-shirt for $28. Yikes, that was a lot of money for a shirt! I’d been debating about paying that much for a t-shirt, but I figured it would be nice to have one souvenir of my stay here in Oklahoma City – along with my website stories! Oh, I also had another souvenir, a bright yellow regulation NCAA softball, which I got for free on Thursday for being one of the first 500 fans into the stadium.
There was a long line of folks waiting to get into the stadium and I walked to the end, then I started talking to the person in front of me, a woman a few years older than myself who said she’d been coming to the tournament for 27 years. We chatted for the next 20 minutes as the line slowly crept forward and she told me that she'd gone to Oklahoma State University which, she said, has a bitter rivalry with the University of Oklahoma, similar to the Oregon/Oregon State rivalry in Oregon or the Michigan/Michigan State rivalry in my home state – or take your pick, really, because just about every state has a similar in-state rivalry between the schools there. So despite being a native Oklahoman, she definitely was not going to root for the Sooners, so after we got into the stadium, I said goodbye to her and then said, “Go Auburn!” and she smiled.
After buying another $5 lemonade, I decided to take a couple pictures along the third base side, just behind all the seats. It was a warm and sunny afternoon, though not nearly as hot as it had been this weekend when I was sweltering in the left field bleachers. A fellow was standing a few feet from me along the railing, shaded by one of the columns for the lights and I thought that was a pretty smart place to watch the game. And then, good fortune, he left so I quickly moved in and took the coveted spot.
I decided that standing here, behind all the seats and halfway between home plate and third base, was a pretty nifty place to watch a game, shaded by the light column. So instead of sitting in left field, I decided to stand there for the entire game, and I’m really glad I did because it was a great spot. I could lean back again the cement column when I wanted to, I was shaded from the sun, and the only difference between this spot and the seats a few feet in front of me was that I had to stand. I figured that was worth it, since my $15 ticket was $100 cheaper than what the folks immediately in front of me had paid for theirs. Sure, I’d be willing to stand for a couple hours if it meant saving a hundred bucks, so there I stood for the entire game.
By the top of the seventh (i.e., last) inning, Oklahoma was ahead of Auburn 3-0, so figuring the game was over, I packed up my camera and headed out of the stadium, which was still nearly full, and hopped onto the shuttle bus to take me back to the parking lot at Remington Park. There was a slow trickle of fans leaving the stadium and we all gradually filled up the bus, which finally took off.
The great thing about this bus was there were TV screens, like on an airplane, that showed the game live on ESPN, so we all got to watch the last inning as we rode back to the parking lot. By the time the bus pulled into Remington Park a few minutes later, Auburn, still down 3-0, had put a runner on first base. As everyone stood up to disembark, I thought they were pretty foolish – either that or supremely confident about the outcome – and I decided to stay on the bus to watch the end of the game. Everyone got off the bus, leaving me and the woman bus driver (who had a thick Oklahoma accent) sitting there watching Auburn at bat. Sure enough, the next Auburn player hit a home run, making the score Oklahoma 3, Auburn 2 with nobody out. I was really glad I decided to stay on the bus and watch the end of the game, which was turning out to be a real thriller.
The driver started heading back to the stadium to pick up more folks and I gave her a play-by-play account of the game as I watched it on the TV, just the two of us on the bus. Auburn put a couple more runners on base, one advancing to third, as we pulled into the stadium parking lot. The driver and I sat there watching the game, since no fans, understandably, were leaving the stadium and lining up for the bus. However, the next two Auburn players were called out and the game was over.
It was a thrilling end to a great game and I was glad I decided to stay on the bus and watch it all unfold. And sure enough, moments after the last out, a flood of fans came running out of the stadium towards the bus. And the best thing about it was that I got home at 9:30 p.m., compared to the last few nights when the final game finished past midnight.
Oklahoma 3, Auburn 2. Oklahoma leads the best-of-three Championship Series 1-0.
The 2016 Women's College World Series (WCWS): Day #5 (Monday)