A recent out-of-state trip by the DC Jaguars 14Under girls softball team had a twist to it.
The team, mostly made up of Douglas County middle-school players, was in Oklahoma City and primed to play in the Oklahoma Challenge tournament when multiple tornados passed through the area May 31.
“We were eating in a restaurant and the sirens starting going off,” said coach Liza Rosa. “We had to evacuate the restaurant. They sent us to an underground parking convention center. We were told to get against the wall because a tornado was coming.
“We were down there for 3½ hours waiting for the tornado to come by and clear us. It was headed our way. I'm not sure how close it got. When they said it was coming and to get close to the wall, it veered and went southwest. It didn't go over us in the parking garage. We were very lucky.”
Lucky but scared.
“The girls were scared,” recalled Rosa. “None of them had experienced a tornado before. They were scared because they just didn't know what was going to happen. It was the unknown. They were upset. Some of them were crying. All the girls had their parents with them. We had little kids there too. “
Rosa, however, had a reassuring talk with a woman who was also waiting out the storm in the parking garage.
“You didn't know if we were in the safest place, but this lady that was standing next to us was from Oklahoma and she said she was here in '87 and it was a bad tornado and this place did not fall down and the tornado went right over us,” said Rosa. “So that made us feel a little better. She said, `It's not coming down and we're going to be fine.'”
The scenes on the way back to the hotel after the tornadoes had passed will surely leave some memories.
“When we went back to the hotel, all the lights were out on the street,” said Rosa. “You would come up on a tree, a car or something that you would have to go around and there was flooding everything. We got back to the hotel and we didn't have any lights. We were in the dark.
“Afterwards, the girls would hear a certain sound and think it was a siren. You could just see the fear in their eyes.”
All tournament games were postponed June 1, and the Jags played two games on June 2 and three on June 3. The team finished fifth in the tournament.
“Considering everything that went on, the girls did phenomenal,” bragged Rosa. “We finished fifth out of 39 teams. It was very different. The College World Series (women's softball) was going on. Although we had a real bad experience Friday (May 31), since we didn't have any games Saturday (June 1), the girls were able to go to some World Series games and get autographs.
“One of our players when we were down in the parking garage got autographs of all the Arizona State team. They got sent down there too. So despite everything that happened, there were a few good things that happened.”