Oklahoma State Transfers Find Solace With Cowgirls
The tone one uses is as powerful as one's words. Even over the phone, Alysen Febrey was lively in the way she spoke, and she was thrilled with her decision to transfer to Oklahoma State. She saw both individual and team success at Georgia during her three-year tenure there, but there was something missing.
In 2018 when the Bulldogs went to the Women’s College World Series, Febrey had one of the best years of her life. The following season, the sport she's loved since she was 12 years old started to drift away from her.
“I fell in love with the sport like everybody else...I just loved playing,” Febrey told Softball America during a phone interview. “Last year, I really found myself not loving softball as much as I wanted to and that’s the main reason I wanted to pursue something else. With softball, there’s not much after college and I really wanted to have fun my last year. I wanted to finish something where I could look back on it and it’d be the best time of my life.”
Carrie Eberle had a similar situation as Febrey’s that led her to Oklahoma State. At Virginia Tech, Eberle was the 2019 ACC Pitcher of the Year and ACC Softball Scholar Athlete of the Year. She graduated there in three years and wanted a change in scenery in terms of softball. Eberle decided to find a great softball program and a school that presented a graduate program in forensic biology.
“I was looking for something more, softball-wise. I wasn’t as happy as I wanted to be for my last year at Virginia Tech,” Eberle told Softball America during a phone interview. “I decided I wanted to experience something new and different, trying to find something better...Luckily, I ended up finding Oklahoma State and it ended up being the best fit for me.”
The harsh reality of all this is that these conversations took place the morning of March 11. Febrey, Eberle and Oklahoma State beat Wichita State, 5-0, that night, around the time that the sports world came to a halt due to COVID-19.
Febrey and Eberle were in the midst of fantastic seasons before what appeared to be their last collegiate softball games. Luckily for Cowgirl fans, it appears the pair will use the NCAA’s granted relief. Eberle told Softball America she’s working on her graduate school schedule and plans to return. Febrey posted to her Instagram, “See you at the top next year, we’re not done yet.”
Febrey had 11 home runs in 24 games for the Cowgirls before the season ended. In that short time, she had already surpassed her previous career-high in home runs (nine) for a single season. Fundamentally, not a lot changed for her. Once again, she brought up her happiness in Stillwater, Okla. and gave credit to that for her power stroke.
“If you look at my swing, it hasn’t changed. It’s just the fact that I am enjoying softball again,” Febrey said. “Finding the fun in it and allowing myself to play softball, play for my teammates and not have any type of pressure. It’s just fun.”
Eberle improved on her great junior season at Virginia Tech by accumulating a 0.46 earned run average across 76 innings pitched this year. Her relationship with pitching coach John Bargfeldt was established quickly and enhanced her mental toughness.
Additionally, Oklahoma State head coach Kenny Gajewski created an environment where senior transfers can have success. Both Febrey and Eberle were influenced by the rise of Samantha Show in her lone season under Gajewski in 2019.
“When you’re transferring with one year left, you have to find a place that has experienced someone like that,” Eberle said. “It takes a unique culture to be able to fully accept and welcome someone when you only have one year with them. Seeing the success (Show) had not only on the field, (but also off of it) being able to build relationships in life, that’s what I was looking for.”
Febrey talked to Show before she committed to Oklahoma State. Show advised Febrey to just make sure it felt right wherever she decided to play. Febrey also just loved the way Show played and how she was allowed to play with fiery passion and have a blast doing so.
It helps playing that way under Gajewski. He originally made a pitch to Febrey back in high school before she ever ended up at Georgia. Gajewski lost in that battle, but eventually got Febrey on his team.
“I can’t even describe my relationship with him,” Febrey said. “I love playing for him. He truly wants the best for you. He wants you, the best version of you. I have so much respect for him because he wants what is best for his players.”
Not every senior student-athlete will have the ability to return like Febrey and Eberle will next season, but for two players who treat softball as more than just a game, fans of the sport will likely be happy to see their careers end on their own terms.