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Having a Ball

A charismatic winner and person on and off the dirt (and court), two-sport star Rylie Boone is taking her Native talents to OU as a member of Patty Gasso’s highly successful softball program.

Article
John Tranchina
Photos
Sarah Eliza Roberts
Posted
January 28, 2019

Rylie Boone will be heading to the University of Oklahoma next year to play softball for one of the top Division I programs in the nation. She’s also a starter on a state championship basketball team and she’s one of the top Native high school athletes in the state.

But one of the first things that Owasso High School softball coach Shane Eicher mentioned about Boone is how good of a person she is.

“I’ve said this to many people, Rylie is a better person than she is a softball player, and that’s saying a lot,” Eicher says. “She’s just a good kid. She’s really funny. A lot of people don’t realize that about her; she’s always trying to make people laugh. I think she’s a good friend. She’ll push teammates but she’s there if they’re struggling or whatever. She’s just a funny kid, but when it’s time to play, she’s all business.”

Boone, who also ran track, started on Owasso’s basketball squad that won the Class 6A state championship last year. With the other four starters graduating, she’s taken on more responsibility, and more of a leadership role, with the Lady Rams this season.

“She’s a hard-working athlete, probably top five that I’ve ever coached on work ethic,” says Owasso basketball coach Matt Sweeney. “She’s just got a good motor. There’s no 50 percent or 80 percent, I don’t care if it’s a practice or whatever it is; she always gives her best. She’s scoring a little bit more this year. Last year, we had four girls that could score a lot, so she didn’t have to do a lot of scoring. Her main thing I would say is defense, but she can score as well.”

Winning a state title was a wonderful experience for Boone.

“It was a great feeling, because the year before that, my sophomore year, we had the potential to do it; it just didn’t click,” she says. “So from the very beginning of last year, before we were even in season, we were like, ‘We’re winning state.’ We called it every game, ‘We’re going to take state and the gold ball.’”

As good as she is at basketball, though, Boone’s top sport is softball, which she’s been playing since she was 6 years old.

“Probably because my love for the game and how long I’ve been playing it,” Boone says of why she’s best at softball. “You know how anything can happen and just how one play can make something go wrong and just the lineup of all the teammates who have played and being able to play with them.”

Riley Boone, who also ran track, started on Owasso’s basketball squad that won the Class 6A state championship in 2018. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
Riley Boone, who also ran track, started on Owasso’s basketball squad that won the Class 6A state championship in 2018. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

As a senior this fall, Boone batted an amazing .514 with 45 runs scored, 24 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 35 games played, helping lead the Lady Rams to a 25-10 record, which included a 17-game winning streak at one point. Owasso won the District 6A-3 championship and the regional tournament before falling to Westmoore, 5-3, in the state quarterfinals.

“In basketball, our chemistry is so much stronger,” Boone says. “When softball hit, I’d tell them winning a state championship is a different feeling. In softball, we struggled a little bit in the very beginning and then we came together and we clicked, but it just didn’t happen. It was just one of those games where, in any softball game, it’s not always going to go your way.”

She committed to the University of Oklahoma during the NCAA’s early signing period Nov. 15, and she’s excited to become a Sooner and to play for their highly-respected coach, Patty Gasso.

“Obviously, it felt like home, but just the way they played and just being so determined and I just like the atmosphere at OU,” Boone says of choosing Oklahoma over her other options, such as Oklahoma State (where her brother Trevor plays baseball), the University of Tulsa, Missouri and Kansas. “And Patty Gasso is just a great coach and everything.”

“Rylie is one of the best outfielders in the country in this 2019 class,” Gasso says on the OU website. “She’s a natural lefty whose passion for the game is contagious. She is the complete package: she has speed to chase down any ball in the outfield, a gun for an arm and the ability to hit for power or beat out bunts in the infield.”

Eicher points out that it is a very big deal that Boone is heading to such a powerhouse program as OU, which has won the last seven Big 12 championships and claimed the Women’s College World Series national championship in 2013, 2016 and 2017.

“It’s tough just to get a Division I offer, let alone to Oklahoma, which is one of the top softball programs in the nation,” Eicher says. “They’re there every year. They’re just really, really good.”

Boone will become one of a small percentage of Native women playing Division I softball (48 out of 6,394 in 2017-18, according to the NCAA), and she is proud of her Osage heritage.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” Boone says. “My brother has talked at an Indian Education thing before and he just represents it well, and I went on a little field trip with the Indian Education to meet little kids at the kids’ school and I signed autographs. It’s really cool and just showing that anything’s possible. It’s just a really nice opportunity to have [to play Division I softball], just because it’s rare.”

But first and foremost, she’s just a good person.

“She’s a great kid, more so than anything,” Eicher says. “Her mom is awesome. Her brother plays baseball at OSU, which is kind of funny with her going to OU. She’s a good student, gets good grades. She’s got a good rapport with teachers, and administrators. She’s just a good kid. She doesn’t have a big head or anything like that. She’s just Rylie, that’s how I look at it.”