Newly signed Sooner infielder Jayda Coleman won the Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year award — the most prestigious award in high school sports — on Wednesday, the Gatorade Company announced.
Coleman was surprised by friends and family at her home in The Colony, Texas, when she heard the news. She won the Gatorade Texas Player of the Year award in May, but had no idea if she would win the award at the national level.
“My sister had a trophy in her hand, my other sister had the banner that said ‘National Gatorade Player of the Year,’” Coleman said. “I was like ‘National?’ and they were like, ‘Yes, national.’
“I just dropped my head and started crying. ... I mean, it’s insane to win such a prestigious award. It’s still mind-blowing right now.”
Coleman, the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2020, was selected out of 400,000 softball players nationwide. She takes home the award after concluding her high school career with a .722 batting average and a .766 base percentage in 138 games played. She also amassed 272 runs, 224 stolen bases and 35 triples in that span.
While her accolades speak volumes to her high level of play, the left-handed shortstop wants Sooner fans to know there’s more to her game than what can be found on a stat sheet.
“I’m gonna be fired up,” she said. “I can’t wait to just get on the field. ... I can’t wait to have that OU jersey and just be a part of something that’s so much bigger than me. I can’t wait to just get it going.”
When she officially signed with the Sooners on June 1, Coleman joined an Oklahoma signing class of fellow infielder Tiare Jennings and pitcher Nicole May — both of whom also ranked in the top 10 in the 2020 recruiting class, per FloSoftball.
While that signing class is one of head coach Patty Gasso’s most loaded to date, it might be awhile before some of its members see significant playing time due to Oklahoma returning its entire 2020 senior class due to last season’s cancellation.
Although that could be viewed as a setback to the new Sooner signees, Coleman views it as a chance to play with and learn from some of the most experienced players in college softball today. In spite of the fact, she’s determined to become the Sooners’ starting shortstop at some point in her career. Coleman said she is willing to play wherever Gasso puts her this season.
“As long as I'm winning a National Championship, it doesn’t matter if I’m (at) right field, left field, second base, shortstop,” she said. “I’m going to compete to get on the field and contribute to my team.
“It would be upsetting if I wasn’t able to play shortstop — obviously I don’t think I’m just going to walk in there and (start) at shortstop — but too many people have invested in me and believed in me for me to just give up. ... I’ll play anywhere, but how cool would it be if I was the first left-handed shortstop in the College Softball World Series? I mean, that would be pretty freakin’ cool.”
With Coleman leading the charge of the Sooners’ newest recruiting class. compiled with seniors Giselle Juarez, Shannon Saile and Nicole Mendes all returning for OU next season, the future's looking bright for Oklahoma’s 2021 season and beyond.
Editor's note: The original headline and text said Jayda Coleman won the "Gatorade National Player of the Year," which is incorrect. Coleman won the "Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year" award.