Oklahoma's Grace Lyons Always Did It With Her Glove. Now, Her Bat.
Oklahoma senior shortstop Grace Lyons has always been a star for the Sooners with her glove.
Since becoming the team's starting shortstop during her freshman season in 2019, she's proved to be one of the best players at her position in the country. Last season, Lyons earned the Big 12 Defensive Player of The Year honor and helped Oklahoma capture its fifth national championship in program history.
But now, she is in the midst of the best offensive season of her college softball career and is considered one of the top all-around players in the country, currently batting .452 with 17 home runs and 51 RBIs this year.
"My mentality going into every single at-bat from freshman year until now was just to get a good pitch and hit it hard," said Lyons, who was one of four Sooners to be named a finalist for the 2022 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. "I'm not doing anything differently to change that mentality."
Lyons is the glue that makes Oklahoma one of the best defenses in the country. She's been able to do this by building chemistry with her fellow infielders, especially redshirt senior Lynnsie Elam. The two have been close ever since Lyons stepped on campus.
"It's a connection that you have to build off the field," Lyons added. "And you have to be friends off the field and be able to have that connection off the softball diamond, because, ultimately, softball is only going to last for a little bit."
And the rest of Oklahoma's infielders feed off of Lyons' presence as well.
"She's not going to get too high and she's not going to get too low," Elam told Softball America. "She's going to be very consistent, so that's great for a leader, for being a shortstop, just a role she has on the team."
After playing in the Women's College World Series championship series twice in her career, Lyons said that her team's dynamic is different this year, and the relationships the Sooners have are at the center of everything they do.
"I definitely think that has a really huge effect in softball," she said. "One, we're women, and relationships are huge for us, and then also just bringing passion to the game. Just building those relationships every single day (is important)."
After a historic season for Oklahoma in 2021, Lyons and her teammates don't focus on what they accomplished last year. Instead, they focus on challenging themselves in practice and fostering their desire to get better each day.
And with one more year of college softball eligibility ahead of her in 2023, Lyons isn't done improving herself or Oklahoma's program just yet. She wants to continue to mentor the younger Sooners and see them grow as they lead the program in the future.
"I'm excited to see the passion continue to grow," Lyons added. "I know Jayda Coleman has so much passion when she plays. I've learned to express my passion like her and from her. Honestly, for my legacy, I want to be the best teammate that anyone can say they've had."