Washington freshman Sami Reynolds (10), a Snohomish High School alum, is congratulated by head coach Heather Tarr after hitting a home run during a Women’s College World Series game against Arizona on May 30 in Oklahoma City. (University of Washington)

Washington freshman Sami Reynolds (10), a Snohomish High School alum, is congratulated by head coach Heather Tarr after hitting a home run during a Women’s College World Series game against Arizona on May 30 in Oklahoma City. (University of Washington)

Snohomish alum reflects on sensational College World Series

Freshman Sami Reynolds made many highlight-reel plays during UW softball’s playoff run.

Sami Reynolds came up with a vivid analogy for the Women’s College World Series.

“I was telling my teammate Amirah Milloy, ‘I swear I’m in Disneyland with all the music and the people screaming,’” the freshman left fielder for the University of Washington softball team said.

If Oklahoma City was a theme park, then Reynolds played the role of a principal character.

The Snohomish High School graduate was one of the shining stars at this year’s Women’s College World Series, adding an exclamation to what was an incredible freshman campaign.

Reynolds was arguably the Huskies’ best position player during Washington’s run to the national semifinals. In Washington’s four games in Oklahoma City, Reynolds batted .438 and made a string of spectacular catches in the outfield.

“It was amazing,” Reynolds said of her WCWS experience. “It is an addictive environment, when you’re on that field that’s all you want to do. You don’t want to be at the hotel, you don’t want to be practicing, you want to be playing games and be on that huge field in front of that crowd.

“When I first got out there it was super intimidating,” added Reynolds, who played at OGE Energy Field at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex when she was 15, but not with the 7,300-seat stadium jam packed. “I think the first second I stepped on the field I was the most stressed I’d ever been in my life. But it went away very quickly. Once I stepped into the batter’s box for the first time I realized it was the same game, especially opening against another Pac-12 team in Arizona.”

Indeed, Reynolds overcame those nerves in a heartbeat, and when she made her presence felt she did so in a big way. Reynolds had no fewer than six plays that the NCAA Softball Twitter account deemed worthy of sharing with its followers. They included:

— In the top of the fifth inning of Washington’s opening 3-1 loss to Arizona last Thursday, Reynolds raced full speed into foul territory and dived full out to snag Reyna Carranco’s fly ball. The catch was eerily reminiscent of a catch made by fellow Snohomish grad Trysten Melhart for the Huskies at last year’s WCWS.

“I think at that point in the game I was ready to help Taran (Alvelo, Washington’s pitcher) in any way possible,” Reynolds said. “Sometimes with lefties, Taran has so much velocity that they have a tendency to go that way in the field, and I was going to go all-out for that no matter what.”

— In the bottom of the sixth Reynolds took Arizona pitcher Taylor McQuillin’s first offering of the inning over the fence in right-center, tying the score at 1-1 and eventually forcing the game into extra innings.

“It’s totally absorbing,” Reynolds said about the sensation of hitting a homer at the WCWS. “It’s a great feeling that you don’t ever want to leave your body. That’s why you play the game, to have those feelings, and I was just excited for my team because at that point it was a new game.”

— In the top of the first in Washington’s 5-3 loser-out victory over Minnesota last Saturday, Reynolds slid home just ahead of the tag on Gophers pitcher Amber Fiser’s wild pitch to make it 2-0.

“It was early in the game and we were trying to be aggressive baserunners, that’s our thing” Reynolds said. “The pitch was way out of the zone, I saw the catcher kind of stand up and fall over, and once I saw that I went as fast as I could.”

— Later in the top of the sixth against Minnesota, following a three-hour rain delay, Reynolds tattooed a liner to center for a two-out, two-run double off reliever Sydney Smith that made it 5-1 and eventually stood as the decisive blow.

“After the rain delay I changed my approach against that pitcher,” Reynolds said. “I told my hitting coach that this was the pitch I wanted (up in the strike zone), she gave it to me and I took my best swing at it.”

— In Washington’s 1-0 loser-out victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday night, Reynolds saved the day in the top of the sixth when she tracked down Madi Sue Montgomery’s shot into the left-field corner, slamming into the wall at full speed just as she caught the ball.

“That ball was a high line drive and I was like, ‘I’m catching this no matter what, even if I have to run through the fence,’” Reynolds said. “I never took my eye off the ball, I knew that if I turned my head to look at the fence I probably wouldn’t be able to re-read the flight of the ball, and I caught it right when I ran into the fence. It was good timing, if I ran into the fence first I don’t know if I would have been able to catch it.”

— Finally, in Washington’s 3-0 extra-inning elimination loss to eventual national champion UCLA on Sunday, Reynolds was at it again in the field in the bottom of the eighth, ranging deep into the left-center gap before making a leaping grab on national player of the year Rachel Garcia’s hot liner to prevent the Bruins from walking it off.

“Rachel hit that ball so hard it was on a knuckle,” Reynolds said. “It was a flat ball flight and it started to rise at the end because of the power Rachel has behind the ball. I kind of had to turn around to catch it, but I didn’t let the ball leave my vision and let my footwork do what it had to do.”

The performance at the WCWS completed a season in which Reynolds finished first on the team in doubles (15 in 58 games), second in RBI (43), tied for second in homers (five) and stolen bases (nine), third in runs (36) and fourth in both batting average (.330) and OPS (.897). She was maned third-team All-Pac-12.

And Reynolds still has three years left.

“I can just see myself continuing to work hard and figure out how to be the best person and best teammate I can be,” Reynolds said. “I think I’m not looking forward to any outcomes, but just how well I can work this game and let it make me into the person I’m going to be when I’m older.”

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