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OU softball: Grace Green, with Oklahoma roots, emerging as next Sooner star

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Oklahoma first baseman Grace Green (21) entered play Friday hitting .430 with 13 home runs and 44 runs batted in. [AP Photo/Casey Brooke Lawson]
Oklahoma first baseman Grace Green (21) entered play Friday hitting .430 with 13 home runs and 44 runs batted in. [AP Photo/Casey Brooke Lawson]

NORMAN — There’s just something about the winds and red dirt of Oklahoma that suits the Green family.

It was in the Sooner State that Daniel Green’s rodeo career took off. Shawnee hosted the 1990 National High School Rodeo, and Green claimed the all-around championship. Since then he’s competed in 10 National Finals Rodeos in Las Vegas.

Thirty years later, and 30 miles west of Shawnee, Green’s daughter has quickly climbed to the top of her own sport.

Grace Green is swinging one of the most powerful bats in one of the most feared lineups in the country. If not for senior teammate Sydney Romero, Green, as a true freshman, would be leading No. 1-ranked Oklahoma in batting average (.430), home runs (13) and runs batted in (44).

To no surprise, given who her parents are, Green was born in Oakdale, California — known as the Cowboy Capital of the World. It’s where Shawnda Green, Grace’s mom and another rodeo champion, is from. The town of 23,000 is located in California’s Central Valley, about 85 miles east of the Bay Area.

But Daniel Green is sure another state snuck into their composition.

“I almost feel like Grace is home,” he said. “She’s got Okie blood.”

Grace’s grandfather on her dad’s side was born just south of Poteau in Le Flore County. Shawnda has family in Okmulgee. Aside from familial ties, the way of life in Oklahoma isn’t all that different from Oakdale. The Greens live out of town without many neighbors next to them. “We’re country,” as Daniel Green described it.

Still, he originally hoped Grace would pick a Pac-12 school close to home.

She visited UCLA and Oregon during her recruitment, but something didn’t quite click.

“When we got to Oklahoma, she literally looked at me and said, 'Dad, don't you think I fit in best here?'”

If she didn’t have softball obligations, Grace would’ve been back home two weekends ago for the annual Oakdale Rodeo.

“Everyone goes,” she said. “It was kind of weird not being there and seeing pictures of everybody.”

Grace said professional cowboys from Oklahoma and Texas often stayed at their house this time of year. Daniel Green doesn’t compete much anymore, but Grace remembers traveling with him a few times to Oklahoma. Her dad won his first timed event championship in 2002 at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie. Now her younger brother and sister compete in rodeo.

While the Oakdale Rodeo was going on, Grace was busy mashing three home runs in a three-game sweep of Kansas. She went 5-for-7 at the plate that weekend to win Big 12 Player of the Week honors.

Green is one of 25 finalists for National Freshman of the Year after not knowing if she’d have a place in the lineup. OU’s two corner infielders, seniors Romero and Shay Knighten, are two-time national champions. Green and Knighten have alternated between first base and designated player, but Green has received a bulk of the recent starts at first.

“I think she was coming in with the notion that maybe she was behind or not good enough,” coach Patty Gasso said. “When we got her to relax and just play the game, she took off.”

Since Big 12 play began, Green is batting .515 with eight home runs and 23 RBI. Her on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs and RBI are best in the conference during that span.

Daniel Green said his daughter was always stronger and faster than most kids her age.

There was no question she would be an athlete, but in which sport?

“She can swing a rope and do some tricks because I don’t think you can be around me and never have picked it up,” Daniel Green said. “But I didn’t try to get her to go in any direction. I remember looking at her when she was born and going, ‘What are you going to do in your life? What’re you going to be?’”

Some parts have already been answered.

Related Photos
<strong>OU freshman Grace Green was born in Oakdale, Calif., but her father says "she's got Okie blood." [AP Photo/Casey Brooke Lawson]</strong>

OU freshman Grace Green was born in Oakdale, Calif., but her father says "she's got Okie blood." [AP Photo/Casey Brooke Lawson]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-a6b51a98385d6f35c587a877a7e10fe1.jpg" alt="Photo - OU freshman Grace Green was born in Oakdale, Calif., but her father says "she's got Okie blood." [AP Photo/Casey Brooke Lawson] " title=" OU freshman Grace Green was born in Oakdale, Calif., but her father says "she's got Okie blood." [AP Photo/Casey Brooke Lawson] "><figcaption> OU freshman Grace Green was born in Oakdale, Calif., but her father says "she's got Okie blood." [AP Photo/Casey Brooke Lawson] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-431a3b7bab0b1986171361a7846a14ad.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma first baseman Grace Green is one of 25 finalists for National Freshman of the Year. (AP Photo/Casey Brooke Lawson) " title=" Oklahoma first baseman Grace Green is one of 25 finalists for National Freshman of the Year. (AP Photo/Casey Brooke Lawson) "><figcaption> Oklahoma first baseman Grace Green is one of 25 finalists for National Freshman of the Year. (AP Photo/Casey Brooke Lawson) </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-6a697081ac55ef9e7e395832597943dd.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma first baseman Grace Green (21) entered play Friday hitting .430 with 13 home runs and 44 runs batted in. [AP Photo/Casey Brooke Lawson] " title=" Oklahoma first baseman Grace Green (21) entered play Friday hitting .430 with 13 home runs and 44 runs batted in. [AP Photo/Casey Brooke Lawson] "><figcaption> Oklahoma first baseman Grace Green (21) entered play Friday hitting .430 with 13 home runs and 44 runs batted in. [AP Photo/Casey Brooke Lawson] </figcaption></figure>
Joe Mussatto

Joe Mussatto joined The Oklahoman in August 2018 to cover OU football, men’s basketball and softball. He previously covered University of Kentucky football and basketball for SEC Country. Mussatto is from Oklahoma City and lives in Norman. Read more ›

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