Sunday, the University of Washington softball team visited Moore, Okla., helped clean up and saw the devastation of last week’s tornado firsthand.
Friday, they found themselves huddled in the basement of an Oklahoma City hotel while wind howled and hail pounded outside. The Huskies are safe, but their scheduled game against Tennessee was postponed until 9 a.m. PDT on Saturday as the Women’s College World Series suspended play at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium Complex.
Coach Heather Tarr said Sunday’s visit to Moore provided a chilling perspective to Friday’s weather. More than 30 Washington players, coaches and other team personnel, along with a few family members, hustled downstairs from rooms on the sixth and seventh floors to the basement of the downtown Sheraton at about 6:30 p.m. CDT.
“A couple of the girls were crying,” Tarr said by telephone. “They were scared. It’s scary because we knew what happened (in Moore). We saw the damage. You don’t know what to expect. You don’t know what’s going on above.”
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Said senior catcher Shawna Wright, “Half of us were scared and half of us weren’t. We just tried to stick together and make sure everyone knew we’re all safe and there was nothing to worry about.”
The Huskies tried to stay loose, playing music on players’ boomboxes and staying connected with family members via text messages and social media until the UW and five other World Series teams staying at the same hotel got the OK to return to their rooms.
Wright said the trip to Moore on Sunday was an eye-opener for the 19 players on the UW team. They helped clear debris for about two hours.
“You see pictures, but you get there and realize how real it is for those people,” said the native of Lancaster, Calif. “They’ve cleaned up a lot, but so many homes are gone. A lot of families we met were so positive. They’re thankful for what they have.
“We just gave them what we could give them until we had to go, but they needed so much more.”