After the Texas A&M softball team's 8-2, season-ending loss to UCLA in the Women's College World Series, seniors Reagan Boenker and Celena Massey stood sock-footed behind home plate.
Carrying on a tradition that head coach Jo Evans brought from her days at the helm of the Utah Utes more than two decades ago, the program's seniors left their cleats at home after their final collegiate game. Junior Erin Houthoofd, who is retiring from the sport, also took part in the tradition.
Boenker and Massey were the first Aggie seniors to leave their cleats in Oklahoma City since 2008.
"It's like, always leave your legacy and the last place you want to leave them is in OKC at the World Series," Massey said. "That's what every senior wants to do is leave their cleats there. I think it was really special for me and Reagan to actually get to leave our cleats here because it's always been a dream."
The footwear disappeared not long after the players walked away from home plate, scooped up by members of the USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium grounds crew as the hurried to get the field ready for the next game. Unlike the those three players, the cleats will have a life in softball beyond the College World Series.
Two of the grounds crew members, Toby Wilson and Ryan McDonald, coach softball at Monroney Middle School in nearby Midwest City. Anytime the pair comes across disregarded equipment they scoop it up to give to underprivileged athletes on their team.
McDonald said the three pairs of Adidas cleats left at home by Aggie softball players will move on to help the next generation of softball standouts in Oklahoma City.