Amid the celebration of clinching a spot in the Women's College World Series, Mindy Cowles' emotions seeped to the surface as she pranced around Farrington Stadium's infield last weekend.
Cowles and the Arizona State Sun Devils have been here before - this is their third straight trip to Oklahoma City under coach Clint Myers. But after going 1-4 in the previous two trips, they're sure this is their chance to play for a national championship.
"I just have a gut feeling it won't be the same trip again," Cowles said. "I got teared up. We're really going to go again."
Similar to previous trips, stopping to shop, going to the movies and taking another trip to the Oklahoma City bombing memorial could be on the agenda. So too, the Sun Devils hope, are extra games and practices.
If they win today, the Devils (61-5) are aware that Arizona or UCLA looms on Friday. But what was once a point of trepidation is met this year with a shrug from infielder/outfielder Caylyn Carlson.
First comes Alabama. The No. 3-seeded Crimson Tide (56-6) and ASU look the same.
Arizona State set a half-dozen team records offensively, and pitcher Katie Burkhart set a half-dozen pitching records.
Alabama went 25-3 in the difficult Southeastern Conference, and outscored opponents 35-4 this postseason. Showing the kind of balance ASU possesses, five Crimson Tide players have hit at least nine home runs. But unlike this year's Sun Devils, Alabama also runs like the wind.
A junior center fielder anchors the Tide's lineup. Brittany Rogers hit .459 with 77 runs and leads the nation with 58 stolen bases. And she's not the only one. Alabama's projected starting lineup has 150 steals.
"It's going to be a good matchup all the way around," Myers said.
This time around, ASU faces all that speed, power and pitching with no jitters. The Sun Devils averaged seven runs per game this season, and will ride Burkhart's left arm for the rest of their days.
Seven days, to be exact, as Carlson tried to forecast the next week's worth of headlines.
"You'll read about us winning," she said, "and proving everyone who thinks we're a six-seed wrong."