How did Haley Lee — OU softball's motorcycle riding, tattooed slugger — fit in with Sooners? (2024)

Ryan AberOklahoman

How did Haley Lee — OU softball's motorcycle riding, tattooed slugger — fit in with Sooners? (1)

How did Haley Lee — OU softball's motorcycle riding, tattooed slugger — fit in with Sooners? (2)

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When Haley Lee’s name popped up in the NCAA transfer portal shortly after the end of last season, OU coach Patty Gasso knew Lee’s talent fit in with the Sooners.

But did her personality?

“I didn’t know her, but I was trying to judge her,” Gasso said Wednesday, a day before top-seeded OU and Lee opens the Women’s College World Series. “I hadn’t seen a lot of girls with a lot of tattoos and so forth, right? I hear that she drives a motorcycle. I’m like, ‘OK, this could be a major problem. I don’t know if this is going to fit.’”

It didn’t take long before Gasso was sold on Lee. Selling Lee on Gasso and the Sooners was quite a bit easier.

Now, Lee is a major piece of OU’s offense as it prepares to open the WCWS at 1:30 p.m. Thursday against Stanford.

Lee has hit safely in each of the Sooners’ seven postseason games —two Big 12 Tournament victories and five more in regionals and super regionals —going 12 of 19 (.632) with eight RBIs and 10 runs scored.

More: Tramel: Patty Gasso's legacy continues to build as OU softball keeps rolling into WCWS

Lee, though, had to offer a correction to Gasso.

“Well, for starters, you ride a motorcycle. You don’t really drive it,” Lee said. “I’m not going to go too deep into that.”

Lee grew up part of a large family in the Houston area, watching the Astros.

Her first memory of going to an Astros game was when she was 9 or 10 years old.

“I have a bunch of cousins —like 15-20 cousins,” Lee said. “And my parents took us to like a random midweek game where all 20 kids were half price. I’m the second-oldest girl cousin on my mom’s side and the only girl athlete.”

While plenty of the other kids were just enjoying the experience of being at the game, Lee and some of her other cousins were watching the game intently.

“We’re all locked into the Astros game, just analyzing everything and anything,” Lee said.

More: 'That’s the look': How Jordy Bahl showed why she's the ace of OU softball pitching staff

She was also drawn to the power-hitting first baseman and outfielder that shared her last name.

That’s why when Lee began playing softball, she picked No. 45 —the same number worn on the Astros by Carlos Lee.

“I used to tell people that we were related,” Haley Lee said.

But Lee has plenty of other interests besides softball.

Her left arm is covered with a sleeve tattoo and she estimates she has seven others elsewhere.

“I just kind of like what I like,” Lee said.

Her mother was a bit disappointed initially but has come around on the tattoos.

Then there’s the motorcycle.

Lee’s grandmother rode one when she was younger.

A few years ago, her grandmother started asking the male cousins if they wanted to bike.

More: Meet Carolan Bledsoe, the Yukon great-grandmother who becomes The Patch Lady during WCWS

“Grandma, why can’t I have it?” Lee said. “I’ll take it from you.”

Lee’s parents weren’t exactly thrilled with that one either.

“But I’m kind of hardheaded,” Lee said. “So I went and scheduled me a class anyways, paid for it and everything. I’m like, ‘It’s nonrefundable, so I’m going to go.”

Lee got her license and fixed the bike up.

“Then I just started riding,” Lee said. “It’s really fun. It’s really freeing. The weather in Norman isn’t always the best, but when it is, I’m out there.”

When Lee visited Norman with her mother and grandmother, senior captain Grace Lyons was one of the few players around.

Gasso figured if Lyons and Lee got along, Lee would fit in with the rest of the team as well.

“I was a little more —not reserved, but kind of quieter than normal,” Lee said. “But as we went on and I got to learn more about each of them, I really started to get comfortable and just started to kind of express and really just show off my personality.”

Gasso could quickly tell that the combination worked.

More: Tramel: OU softball delivers 'Sooner Magic' vs. Clemson in epic Marita Hynes Field sendoff

“This is going to be weird, but kind of fell in love with her personality,” Gasso said. “Just so happy I wasn’t so lame to say, ‘Oh no, I don’t want to do that.’”

As the designated player most games, Lee spends as much time around Gasso in the dugout as anyone.

“She’s near me enough that there are so many different voices coming out of her from —I’m not going to make you imitate any, but it is a trip,” Gasso said, looking at Lee sitting next to her. “I keep looking down like, ‘Who is making that sound?’ It’s this one right here.”

This week, Lee’s personality —and hitting —will make their debut on the sport’s biggest stage.

“Watching it from afar growing up, it’s like a dream come true,” Lee said. “You take away the 8-year-old’s dream and make it a reality. Just getting to take this path and getting to experience it with such great players and great teammates, they’ve really made the journey like the funnest it could have been.”

OU vs. Stanford

FIRST PITCH: 1:30 p.m. Thursday at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium (ESPN)

More: What was the No. 1 OU softball moment in Marita Hynes Field history?

How did Haley Lee — OU softball's motorcycle riding, tattooed slugger — fit in with Sooners? (2024)
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