‘It was a total shock’: OU softball signee Jayda Coleman earns Gatorade National Player of the Year honor
OU softball signee Jayda Coleman was surprised when she learned she had been named Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year.
The Colony (Texas) High School graduate was taken to her local practice facility expecting to be honored for winning the state player of the year. Then, her two sisters brought out a banner telling her the news.
“I was like ‘National?’ and they said, “Yes, national,’” Coleman said. “I just put my head down and started crying. It was a total shock.”
Coleman has been regarded as one of the best players in the 2020 class throughout her high school years. She finished her career with a .771 batting average, 283 hits and 123 RBIs.
The shortstop had the award on her radar since playing with Kelley Lynch, the winner of the award last season, on the USA Softball’s Junior National Team.
“I thought, ‘Oh, that’d be a really cool award to get,’” Coleman said. “She was on all these magazines and doing these photo shoots and I just thought it seemed like a cool award.”
Coleman committed to OU when she was in eighth grade after having first visited the campus two years prior. She said she enjoyed the aesthetic of the campus and described the home-like atmosphere she felt.
“I just fell in love with the campus and just thought it was beautiful,” Coleman said. “It wasn’t in a big city where everything is messy. It was very clean. I remember going to the sand where the shortstop stands and it just felt like home.”
Along with enjoying the campus, Coleman forged a bond with head coach Patty Gasso and assistant JT Gasso. She said they struck a good balance of having a family-oriented environment while also being focused on winning.
“I’m a big family person,” Coleman said. "I just fell in love with it all and we all have that mindset that we’re going to win, we’re going to get after it, we’re going to do whatever we can to get a national championship, and I’m completely on board with what they have going on at OU.”
Coleman specifically cited Gasso’s on-field success as another reason to draw her to OU. The Sooners have played in four consecutive Women’s College World Series, including back-to-back wins in 2016 and 2017.
OU finished the 2020 season 20-4 before its cancellation due to the coronavirus. The NCAA voted in March to extend eligibility for all spring athletes, meaning All-American pitcher Giselle Juarez, All-Big 12 utility Nicole Mendes and pitcher Shannon are coming back for the 2021 season.
Coleman said she and the rest of the 2020 recruiting class meet weekly with the coaching staff on Zoom, and they are likely to arrive on campus in mid-August.
“They call Coach Gasso the GOAT for a reason,” Coleman said. “She is the coach I want to play for. She’s going to be tough on me and she’s going to make me the best player I can be. Just look at how successful she is. She’s one of the best you can play for.”