At the mention of the Oklahoma softball program, two things come to mind: winning and Jesus. Both were on display this past weekend.
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On the softball diamond from Friday to Sunday, the No. 2 Sooners (13-1) completed a five-game sweep of five different opponents at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City, California, culminating in a 14-0 demolition of No. 1 and previously-undefeated UCLA.
Meanwhile, in a pool doubling as a baptismal font, redshirt freshman Quincee Lilio was baptized on Saturday after committing her life to Christ.
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“Jesus Saves!!” Lilio’s caption read as she posted a video of her baptism on Instagram. “Yesterday, I made the best decision ever! I surrendered to Christ and He has changed my life for the better. Christ placed me at OU and has surrounded me with some of the best teammates and God loving people. I am so happy I was able to share this moment with some of my favorite people. Jesus gave His life for us. I am unashamed!”
Lilio is getting her first bit of playing time as a part of the Oklahoma softball program and performing admirably. She’s accumulated four hits in 10 at-bats across nine appearances (two starts) so far in 2023, driving home three runs and crossing the plate three times herself.
She didn’t play in Oklahoma’s game against UCLA but appeared in three different games over the weekend, including against Loyola-Marymount on Saturday, in which she smashed a triple and collected all three of her RBIs.
Yet as much as Lilio has developed as a softball player during her time in Norman, the development God has brought about in her faith is far greater. And she’s simply the latest Sooner to be impacted by how God is at work in the program.
Oklahoma’s Christ-centered culture all begins with legendary head coach Patty Gasso, who has led OU to six Women’s College World Series titles in her nearly three decades at the helm, and has been carried on through the years by many faithful players and coaches.
Sports Spectrum traveled to Norman last fall to sit down with a number of the believers associated with Oklahoma softball, including Gasso, for numerous podcast episodes and the Spring 2023 cover story for Sports Spectrum Magazine.
Gasso details how, as her own faith in Christ grew during her early years at Oklahoma, she began to offer optional Bible studies for players and give glory to God in postgame media interviews. She recalls how freeing it was to acknowledge her Lord and Savior in front of the world, and she never looked back.
“The Lord kind of woke me up,” Gasso told Sports Spectrum, “and was like, ‘You’re doing this wrong. You’re not here to win games. You’re here to open the door, here to win souls. You open the door, let them in. I’ll take over from there.'”
Lilio’s story of salvation is just that: Gasso offered her a spot because of her softball talent, God used it to bring Lilio to Himself.
In the pool with Lilio during her baptism were two other players — senior Rylie Boone and redshirt senior Grace Lyons, two team leaders in softball and in faith.
“I think the culture of this program has a lot to do with who I am today as a person,” Boone told Sports Spectrum, adding that it wasn’t until she arrived on campus that she became a follower of Christ.
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Ultimately, she attributed it to the intentional friendship, mentorship and discipleship of Lyons, who has become an incredible ministry leader during her collegiate career. Lyons not only speaks into the lives of the younger generation of Sooners but also reaches out to pray with opponents and even hosts a three-day faith-based conference for softball players around the country.
“I look at softball as kind of my mission field right now,” Lyons told Sports Spectrum. “That’s what I’m doing right now; that’s where I’m at. And how can I best glorify the Lord? That’s by going and making disciples wherever I’m at. … I love to encourage other believers. That’s kind of my sweet spot.”
Oklahoma softball has done more winning on the field than anyone else in the past 10 years, and the Sooners accomplished it all with a team culture that values Christ above all. And even as they seek a third consecutive national title, Lilio, Gasso, Boone, Lyons and others at Oklahoma will seek to continue, first and foremost, to bring glory to God in all things.
The Sooners next take the field in a doubleheader on Friday at the OU Tournament, facing Illinois-Chicago at 4 p.m. ET and Kentucky at 6:30 p.m. ET.
– SS PODCAST: OU softball coach Patty Gasso on God’s guidance in coaching
– Oklahoma softball ace Jordy Bahl plays for ‘audience of One’
– SS PODCAST: OU softball’s Grace Lyons on winning titles, serving Christ
– Led by faith, OU softball caps dominant season with 2nd straight national title
– INSIDE THE CHAPEL PODCAST: Oklahoma softball chaplain Sarah Roberts