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Joe Buettner | The Norman Transcript | May 12, 2019

NCAA softball: Oklahoma's Grace Green shines in first opportunity to play in front of her mother

This will get you excited for this year's WCWS

May 12--OKLAHOMA CITY — A motor home sits near the front entrance of a parking lot, leading to the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex.

The spacious vehicle equipped with leather armchairs and rest areas is the perfect camp for an Oakdale, California, family elated to attend the Big 12 softball tournament on a Friday afternoon.

Its main purpose is ensuring comfort in between games for Shawnda Green, the mother of Oklahoma freshman Grace Green.

Friday's tournament games were Shawnda's first experience watching her daughter play college softball in person after spending the first 50 games of Grace's Sooner career watching her on television, or online, 1,600 miles away.

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The mother of three wasn't absent by choice. She's been battling a neurological disorder, known as Guillain-Barr syndrome. Her initial diagnosis came Jan. 18, and she spent two months recovering in a hospital from a disorder that prompts the person's immune system to attack areas of the nervous system.

Shawnda was finally well enough to attend one of her daughter's games Friday. It made for a memorable Mother Day's weekend as she sat in the outfield to see her daughter play for the top-ranked team in the country.

"It was the way it was supposed to be," Shawnda said.

Poor field conditions caused by heavy rain late Friday shortened the tournament, so the Green family was only able to watch OU beat Texas Tech 8-0 and play nearly three-and-a-half innings of a night game vs. Kansas.

Grace Green made the most of her first opportunity in front of her mom. She went 2 for 3 at the plate against Texas Tech and was plated by senior Shay Knighten for a walk-off, run-rule victory.

For Shawnda, just being there was enough.

"It was good, a little emotional," she said. "Probably the most emotional was just in the beginning."

Grace was just happy to record a hit with her mom in the crowd.

"That made me feel good to get a hit in front of her," Grace said with a smile. "It was awesome."

Shawnda wasn't able to meet with her daughter after OU's first game, and the team's second outing of the night was postponed. But the Greens were able to see Grace Friday morning.

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The family flew into Oklahoma Thursday and tried to park their motor home at the venue the night before the tournament opener. They were met by closed gates at the complex and then had issues checking into their hotel.

The Greens finally got to bed at 3 a.m. and slept about three hours before reuniting with Grace for breakfast at Cracker Barrel. Shawnda was hoping to try Neighborhood JA.M., but Grace thought it'd be too busy.

No issue, Shawnda will take any place with breakfast options.

The family discussed final exams, the first day of the Big 12 tournament games and how quickly Grace's freshman season has gone by. She has helped OU to a 49-2 record, and this past week, was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year and a finalist for the NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year.

Her family has enjoyed watching her success, albeit mostly from afar in Oakdale, through Shawnda's battle with GBS.

"One of the thoughts as a mom is what happens if something major happens in your family and your daughter is 1,600 miles away," Shawnda Green said. "Of course, I didn't think this was going to happen. You'd think it would be hard on them but I think she's done well."

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Shawnda is doing okay herself. She smiles, wearing a red OU shirt, as she hits on the edge of the bed she's about to rest upon in the motor home before the Sooners' eventual rain-delayed game against Kansas.

She's surrounded by family, including her husband, Daniel, who's wearing a customized OU Jumpman football jersey embroidered with the No. 21 and "GREEN" across the back nameplate.

Grace Green is surrounded by her own support system in Norman, which includes a group of underclassmen that have helped the freshman through a difficult time.

Friday was a much happier day for the Greens.

"She loves being out here but I'm sure she likes to see her family too," Shawnda said with a laugh.

Grace's father, Daniel, jokingly interrupts with, "we hope."

"It's awesome, I love seeing her," Shawnda said. "It's great. We hope to be back in a couple of weeks."

This article is written by Joe Buettner from The Norman Transcript, Okla. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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