Chickashanews.com

July 16, 2013

Sampson explains decision to leave OU

Ben Johnson
CNHI

NORMAN, Okla. —

Erica Sampson has been a Sooner since birth. While at Tahlequah High School, she had her sights set on playing for only one school in college.

That dream became a reality when she signed with the Oklahoma Sooners.

In two years in Norman, Sampson played in 111 games and even got to hoist the national championship plaque over her head once the top-ranked Sooners won the national championship against Tennessee.

All that, however, was not enough to keep Sampson at the university that she holds nearest and dearest to her heart.

“Nothing in my heart has changed,” she said. “It’s just one of those things where I accomplished everything I set out to accomplish.”

With that said, Sampson decided to transfer to the University of Tulsa and play her final two years of softball closer to home.

“I wasn’t homesick,” Sampson said. “But transferring to a school closer to home did help my decision to leave Norman.”

Sampson will join a Golden Hurricane club that went 42-16-1 in 2012. Tulsa fell short of the Conference USA championship but ended up making the NCAA tournament, where it was eliminated after two games in the Nebraska Regional.

Sampson’s decision to transfer was first reported by the Muskogee Phoenix.

“It’s kind of tough for me not getting the playing time that I want,” said Sampson, who only had 124 at-bats during her time at OU after being named All-Phoenix fastpitch MVP her senior year at Tahlequah High.

“I’m not doing it to be selfish. It’s not going to hurt OU at all. I just looked to go somewhere the next two years where I can play.”

Sampson, though, did want to make one thing clear — she’s not looking for a spot to be handed to her at TU; she intends on earning a starting spot.

“I’m not wanting to work less,” she said. “I”m still going to work hard. But just as an individual, I’m looking for a better outcome.”

Sampson said because she’s transferring out of the Big 12 Conference she will be eligible to play at TU right away.

“I was given a full release to anyone that is not a Big 12 school,” Sampson said. “That was in the contract or the agreement I signed with (OU coach Patty Gasso). I don’t know if it’s different with softball, but I can play as long as it’s not another Big 12 school.”

Telling Gasso she was transferring was the crushing part, Sampson said.

“It was very hard,” she said. “I was completely honest with her, just because I knew what I was letting go of.

“It kind of hit me when I was walking out of the coach’s office. I thanked her for letting me be a part of the best program in the country. I’m definitely three times the player and woman that I am now because of going there.”

At Tulsa, Sampson isn’t sure which position she’ll be pegged at. But she’s willing to play wherever she’s needed.

“They’re taking me in and seeing where the best fit is,” said Sampson, who played catcher and outfield for Tahlequah during fastpitch and softball season, respectively.

“I could be in the outfield or at catcher or whatever.”