By Cliff Brunt
AP Sports Writer

LINCOLN–(AP June 20)–Even as Jordy Bahl was on her way to becoming national freshman of the year at Oklahoma in 2022, her heart was back home.

The Papillion, Nebraska, native got a tattoo with the outline of Nebraska on her right arm during spring break that year. She said she was homesick and expected the feeling to change, but it never went away. After two standout seasons at Oklahoma, she decided to transfer and play for Nebraska.

“It was always important to me to represent Nebraska, even being away,” she told media in Lincoln, Nebraska on Tuesday. “I’ve always made it a point to be proud of being a Nebraskan. And I think part of being away for two years was good because if anything, just my love for this place and just the pride in representing it grew.”

She poured herself into her time at Oklahoma. Two seasons ago, she was the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s Freshman of the Year and a first-team All-American. This past season, she had a 22-1 record and an 0.90 ERA and was a first-team NFCA All-American and a Top 10 finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. She threw 24 2/3 scoreless innings at this year’s Women’s College World Series and was named its Most Outstanding Player.

While pleased with her decision to move on, she still thinks about what she left.

“You come off of winning a national championship and going to (country singer) Toby Keith’s and hanging out with him afterwards, which was pretty cool,” she said. “But then, you have to break it to your teammates and your coaches that you’ve decided to make the decision to come home, and so that was kind of sad. But once I got home and have started to settle in, unpack and everything, finally it’s just started to sink in that, you know, like, this is real.”

She originally committed to Nebraska before switching to Oklahoma. She said her younger self had some learning to do.

“At that point in my life, I wasn’t aware of how much I needed balance until you leave home and you’re seven hours away from everything that means so much more to you than the game itself,” she said. “And then I realized I can’t love the game itself if I don’t have these other things in my life that I love so much. It’s just — everything gets out of whack.”

Bahl said she has no regrets.

“I’m thankful that I went down to Oklahoma,” she said. “I learned a lot and I wouldn’t really change anything. I believe it all happens for a reason, and I had amazing opportunities down there and met some amazing people.”

Nebraska coach Rhonda Revelle knew Bahl from camps and always thought she was special. She received the initial call from Bahl before the transfer.

“I don’t know how long we talked, maybe 15 minutes, but we didn’t talk about softball at all,” she said. “It was really just a moment to reconnect. And I got to tell her that when she moved in a different direction (after her initial commitment), there was never one hard feeling from any of our staff. And that we have always been Jordy Bahl fans as a person first, as an athlete second, and that never wavered.”

Bahl wants next season to end in the same place it has the past two years.

“It would be so cool to see Nebraska in the College World Series and just make the run that I believe that this team can make,” she said.