(Photo courtesy of Florida State Athletics)

As I stepped into the pitching circle for the final three outs, my mind was focused on just competing with every single pitch. The moment that you start thinking about what's at stake is the moment a team like Washington can take advantage of you.

But after I got the first two outs and I saw the next ground ball bounce towards me, it's hard not to ignore the magnitude of the play. I spent the first 12 years of my life in Chicago, and I can still remember that goofy grin on Kris Bryant's face when he fielded the last out of the 2016 World Series. My play was more graceful....barely.

When the ball came to me, and I went to throw it, it felt like my arm came out of my body. Maybe it wasn’t the smoothest throw to first, but when our first baseman Carsyn Gordon closed her glove on the ball, that was it! We had done it...we were National Champions!

 
 

Everybody formed a dogpile on me, and I can't remember if I was laughing or crying, because it was probably both. But the real tears didn't come until we knelt in a circle by home plate and said a prayer together as a team. That's when I started sobbing. I just thanked God for the opportunity to play and live out a dream of mine.

 
 

And as cool as it was to win the title, the best part might have been what transpired afterwards. I had an opportunity to live out one of my favorite Bible verses, Matthew 5:16, which says "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is Heaven."

As an aspiring nurse, my goal has always been to help people, but I didn't have to finish nursing school to realize that dream. I became friends with Hayden, an 11-year-old who has been battling Rhabdomyosarcoma. Not only does she bring the best out in me, but she also says I'm her favorite player. I don't take that responsibility lightly, and I try to message Hayden almost every day. She even got to be on hand this season when I threw a no-hitter against Notre Dame. I can’t take all the credit for that performance either, because she gave me a hug before every inning. It was kind of like our good luck charm.

(Photo courtesy of Florida State Athletics)

I know a lot of people would take a look at a child battling an illness and say that's it's proof that God doesn't exist. That a loving God wouldn't let a criminal walk around healthy and put an innocent child through Rhabdomyosarcoma. But all I can say to them is that God is sovereign, and even though we don't understand His plan, there is a purpose in everything.

And when you look at the way Hayden has inspired me, I know there is a purpose in our friendship.

I also know that somebody might look at my career and think I've had everything easy, and that anyone can praise God when you're throwing one shutout after another. But I've had my struggles too. I still remember the time in 2017 when my teammate Jessica Burroughs took a two-hitter into the 7th inning against our arch-rival Florida. It was a 0-0 game with 1 out and nobody on when they brought me in, and within a handful of pitches after coming into the game, I was giving up the walk-off hit.

But people like Hayden show me that you have to get up and keep fighting. That goes for softball and for life off the field too.

As for the championship ring, it's sitting right next to me on my desk. It's beautiful, with diamonds on the outside and the iconic FS logo on the middle. Of course, the only thing that would make it even more beautiful is having another ring right next to it.

And if we are lucky enough to make it back to Oklahoma City, I can think of at least one special fan that will be cheering me on.

Go Noles!

Meghan King, #48

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(Photo courtesy of Florida State Athletics)

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