'Once in a lifetime': Elish family celebrates sister reunion at WCWS with OSU vs. Arizona
Casey Elish added some miles to the family car this week.
Elish, the father of Oklahoma State softball standout Miranda Elish, drove his wife, Dawn, and son, Brady, on an expansive road trip watching softball.
The car — a 2014 Honda Pilot — hauled the trio more than 3,000 miles in the past seven days.
The first leg started in Crown Point, Indiana, the family’s hometown. It wound down to Stillwater to watch Miranda help OSU reach the Women’s College World Series for the third straight time.
After the celebration with Miranda, the next stretch came mere hours later. In the middle of the night, the family traveled to Starkville, Mississippi, to support their younger daughter, Madi, and watch the Arizona Wildcats upset Mississippi State.
An 11-hour return to Crown Point concluded the third stretch.
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The most recent leg happened Thursday morning, when the family returned to Oklahoma for the WCWS. Roughly 43 hours were spent in the Honda Pilot and that doesn’t include the eventual return trip home.
The voyage wasn’t without a good reason. On Thursday night, the Elish daughters, Madi and Miranda, shared a softball field for the first time in their careers. Casey said he never thought this moment would happen with Miranda being five years older than Madi.
“For them to have this opportunity though, it’s once in a lifetime,” he said.
Madi, a freshman pitcher for the Wildcats, didn’t make an appearance Thursday, but Miranda, operating as OSU’s designated player, tallied two hits and a run as the Cowgirls defeated Arizona 4-2 at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.
“It was awesome,” Miranda said. “I don’t think my entire family has been to a game since my freshman year.”
The sisters didn’t have an on-field moment with Madi in the circle and Miranda in the box, something Casey said he would’ve loved to see.
Dawn would’ve been too nervous to watch.
“I would love to see them go head-to-head,” said Brady, the sisters’ 14-year-old brother.
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Casey and Dawn traveled to the stadium twice before — both for Miranda’s freshman and sophomore seasons when she was playing for Oregon — but this trip felt different.
“They’re both here,” Dawn said. “Just the anxiety I’m sure they’re feeling.”
Miranda said, “Being able to compete against my sister and having her there with my mom, dad and brother, it means a lot.”
Despite the girls playing on opposing schools, Dawn found a way to support both. Using an app, she crafted a mash-up of OSU’s and Arizona’s logos, combining them on a white T-shirt with a diagonal gray line slicing them in half. Printed on the right sleeve is No. 40, representing Miranda. On the left, a No. 19 for Madi.
“I thought something like this would be nice with the girls’ numbers on it,” Dawn said pointing to the shirt. “Nothing too gaudy.”
Brady is just happy he didn’t have to pick either an Arizona or OSU shirt to wear.
But come first pitch the family still needed to select sides. Brady and Casey sat in the Arizona family section. Dawn and a family friend, Amy, who the family calls “aunt,” claimed the OSU side.
“I told them they don’t have to make it fair,” OSU coach Kenny Gajewski said. “They can all be on our side.”
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Leading up to the game, Dawn remained out of the conversation between the daughters this week, hoping to not raise tensions. The trash talk remained minimal in the family texts, Casey said.
“Just a little playful banter,” Casey said.
Brady knew they were both excited for the opportunity.
Through the hectic WCWS schedule, the sisters were able to spend some time together ahead of the tournament. On Tuesday, they spent time together at the pre-tournament banquet, snapping pictures together for their family.
“That’s just so cool to see a family go through,” said Arizona coach Caitlyn Lowe, who also played against her sister at the WCWS.
After the game, the family all convened to talk. The parents wished there was a way for both teams to win. But just getting to see them share a field was enough.
“It was just a feeling of completeness,” Casey said. “They made it to this stage after all the hard work, dedication and sacrifice they put into this game, so just to see them out there competing on softball’s biggest stage is very gratifying.”
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Thursday's WCWS results
► OSU 4, Arizona 2
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At USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. (Games on ESPN2)
6 p.m.: UCLA vs. Northwestern
8:30 p.m.: Oregon State vs. Arizona