Editor’s Note: The Ada News caught up with Oklahoma State University junior-to-be Chelsea Alexander earlier this week at Latta High School, where she graduated as an All-Stater in 2017. She helped the Cowgirls to their first Women’s College World Series appearance since 2011 this summer during a memorable sophomore campaign.
The Ada News: What a season you and the Oklahoma State softball team had, ending in a run to the Women’s College World Series. Describe that ride for me.
Chelsea Alexander: “It’s indescribable. I can’t even put into words the feeling and stuff that go along with that. There were so many emotional ups and downs. When you get to the end of the season, all of the postseason is a grind. Everybody is fighting it out to make it to those last eight slots. We said from the very beginning that the World Series was our end goal. We wanted to get our program back to that position. And actually accomplishing that and doing it with the girls I was able to do it with is indescribable. It was truly a blessing.”
The Ada News: The final result didn’t turn out as the Cowgirls wanted it to, but what was it like to face off against Bedlam rival Oklahoma on that huge stage?
Chelsea Alexander: “That crowd was insane. For me, my heart gets going really fast. I don’t jump up and down like (teammate) Rylee Bayless or anything like that. But my heartbeat will get going and I get a little out of control at times. Surprisingly, to me, I didn’t ever feel completely overwhelmed. I felt like we were ready to play. We were ready to face them. Our train got off the tracks a little bit early but we got back on but just couldn’t catch up. But it was really fun to play them. They’re tough to beat. They’re good. But our program is getting there.”
The Ada News: You had a big following from this area, particularly on social media, that swelled as the season went along. Talk about your fan base from the Ada area and what that means to have that kind of support.
Chelsea Alexander: “People were coming out of the woodworks that I hadn’t talked to in years saying ‘Good luck. We’re rooting for you. Diehard OU fans were saying they would be wearing orange. Things like that. It was absolutely awesome to see. That support means so much to me. That’s kind of my story, my testimony is being a small-town kid. That’s really what it’s all about for me, representing for my people. This is where I’m from and I love these people and this town. Being able to share in my success with them makes it that much better.”
The Ada News: What is it like to play for coach Kenny Gajewski? What is he like? I would imagine it’s a stark contrast to Jim Foster’s style.
Chelsea Alexander: “Coach G has one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever seen. He’s a genuine person. He lets the passion get the best of him, rarely, and every once in a while you’ll see him get tossed. But you know he has our backs. He truly cares, not just about winning, but about us.”
The Ada News: Oklahoma State got some criticism about the way your team celebrated sometimes and in particular the bat flips of slugger Samantha Show. What are your thoughts on that?
Chelsea Alexander: “(After laughing during the question). Oh, the bat flips. Personally, I have never seen one of her bat flips until it’s on video. I don’t watch her throw the bat. I see her hit the ball and I start watching it leave the park. My focus is to get to the plate so we can cheer. I’m not pro- or anti-bat flip, but I’m pro-celebration. The cool thing about Sam is she doesn’t do that to spite anybody else. She does that for us. She’s raw emotion out there. They were fun to watch on video.”
The Ada News: How was your summer as it relates to the softball world?
Chelsea Alexander: “I applied for an internship with USA Softball as an event management intern. I actually applied for it my freshman year and didn’t get it. I was really young. But I re-applied and happened to get it. I needed it for my major and I was glad to get it out of the way. Usually in the summer after the season ends, we get a couple of weeks off and then we all go back to Stillwater. We work out in the morning ... go to class ... and you have the rest of the day to hang out. That’s the biggest thing — hanging out with the girls and really getting to know each other. This summer wasn’t like that. I was commuting back and forth and by the time I’d get back to Stillwater I was exhausted. I helped with the last day of the World Series, so I was right back up there. So I didn’t have that break as usual and kind of reset. As busy as it kept me, it was an incredible opportunity. I’m glad I did it.”
The Ada News: The team loses several key pieces from the group that played in the World Series, but you also return some key players. So what can fans expect from the Cowgirls next year?
Chelsea Alexander: “I’ve gotten asked that a lot. Like who’s going to fill in for Show? Or who’s going to fill in for Rylee? I don’t know. That’s a good question. But that’s part of the process, graduating girls and bringing new ones in. That’s what you’re working to build — not having to worry about replacing parts. We have some really good talent coming in with our freshman class and we have some really good transfers with who put up good numbers at their previous schools. I’m curious to see how all the pieces fall together.”
The Ada News: What can fans expect from junior Chelsea Alexander next year?
Chelsea Alexander: “Personally, I just want to go out and relax. I say that every year — just relax and have fun. There’s a lot of pressure that comes with playing college ball at the Division I level. When you finally figure out that there doesn’t need to be all that pressure is when you’re going to perform your best. I feel like I kind of started to relax and get back to being who I really am. I have no rhythm but I’ll be out there bouncing around and dancing in left field. That’s just how I play. I play my best when I play loose. I’m going to do whatever coach G asks me to do — whether that’s hitting nine and playing left field or I’m pinch-hitting or pinch-running. I just want to help my team and get us back to the World Series. Just look for me having fun and dancing in left field.”
Note: As a sophomore, Alexander hit .268 with one home run, one triple, three doubles, seven RBIs and 26 runs scored. She also drew 11 walks and stole nine of 10 bases. Alexander started 34 games for the Cowgirls.