Arkansas Slugger Danielle Gibson Is On A Mission
The ball continues to fly off the bat of Danielle Gibson, who recently cemented herself as the all-time RBI leader in Arkansas program history.
But that wasn't Gibson's first history-making experience in Fayetteville.
Last year, Gibson helped the Razorbacks reach their highest ranking in the polls, a top eight seed in the NCAA Tournament that included hosting a super regional and an SEC regular season title. The only missing piece for Arkansas in 2021 was a trip to Oklahoma City for the Women's College World Series.
This season, however, Gibson is determined to lead the Razorbacks there in June. So far in 2022, she has posted career-best numbers with a .480 batting average to go along with 14 home runs and 46 RBIs. Gibson credits her big numbers to all she has learned in her five seasons of college softball, which began at Arizona State in 2018.
“My maturity is at an all-time high right now,” Gibson told Softball America. “Being able to use that and staying present in each game has really helped. Even when I'm struggling or not swinging the best, I just find a way to produce and help my team get a victory.”
Last year’s record-breaking season ended sooner than the Razorbacks expected, as they ran into an Arizona squad determined to get their legendary head coach, Mike Candrea, to a final Women's College World Series.
“We had to tip our caps to Arizona and Coach Candrea, but it was rough,” Gibson admitted. “We felt like we had more in the tank and more to show, but it is fuel and motivating us now. It’s in the back of our minds, and that’s good because it motivates us upperclassmen to step up and do whatever we can do to get past supers.”
When the Murrieta, Calif. native reflects on her decision to transfer after the 2018 season, she knows it was fate that led her to Arkansas.
“I had no idea I would ever go to school here,” Gibson said. “After my freshman year, I entered my name into the transfer portal and Coach Deifel was one of the first ones to reach out. I gave it a go and ended up coming to Arkansas and loving it. It means the world to me.”
Gibson knows the softball program at Arkansas has come a long way since then. She recalls that during her recruiting and transferring processes, Arkansas was not one of the more well-known college softball programs in the country, but she was drawn to the idea of playing in the SEC and helping to build something from the ground up.
“I think the SEC is the conference of America,” Gibson said. “We’re playing super regional–caliber teams every single weekend, and winning (the conference) just shows who we are as individuals and as a team.”
Gibson is thrilled to see how far the Razorbacks have come since she went through the recruiting process herself.
“It is so cool to be a part of the journey in helping put this program on the map, and making it a dream school for girls who not only live in Arkansas, but also across the country.”
And as the 2022 season enters its homestretch, the goal remains clear for Gibson and the Razorbacks.
“(We want to use) our maturity and leadership mindset to get us to Oklahoma City,” Gibson said. “Reaching the World Series is the ultimate end goal.”