Abbotsford Outlaws softball players were among about 100 people who recently waited out an approaching tornado in the laundry room of their hotel in Oklahoma City.

Abbotsford Outlaws softball players were among about 100 people who recently waited out an approaching tornado in the laundry room of their hotel in Oklahoma City.

Waiting out a tornado: Abbotsford softball squad weathers storm scare in Oklahoma

An Abbotsford softball team had a harrowing experience in Oklahoma recently, as they had a brush with the tornadoes that rocked the state.

An Abbotsford softball team had a harrowing experience while attending a tournament in Oklahoma City recently, as they had a brush with the devastating tornadoes that rocked the state.

The Abbotsford Outlaws 18-and-under girls squad was in Oklahoma City for four days bridging May and June, to play in a tourney and to attend the NCAA Women’s College World Series.

On Friday, May 31, prior to the start of their event, the team took a trip to Moore, Okla., the town that had been torn apart by tornadoes on May 20. They held a practice, and drove through the wreckage left behind by the disaster, which claimed 24 lives.

That evening, as they were leaving their hotel, they were told a tornado was approaching.

The team spent the next two hours on the main floor, biding their time by playing cards, doing homework or reading. As the storm intensified, they were hustled into a basement laundry room.

“There were probably about 100 people squished in that little laundry room,” said Jen Schreyer, head coach of the Outlaws and director of the softball academy at Yale Secondary. “The girls were obviously pretty scared.”

The hotel patrons in the basement received periodic updates on the tornado from a clerk, and from a fellow guest who had a storm tracking app on his phone.

“It was never really a serious threat,” Schreyer said. “But the woman from the hotel came in and told the girls to say their prayers at one point, so they freaked out and I got really angry. Me and that woman had words.

“There were some definite tears, and some parents freaking out because they had no idea where we were . . . We had Tweeting and Facebook and texting and all that stuff going on.”

The tornado was a rare EF5, the strongest on the scale of intensity, and it was 2.6 miles wide, the widest ever recorded. It avoided highly populated areas, but nevertheless, 22 people in the region lost their lives in the storm and subsequent flooding.

The next day, the Outlaws emerged from their hotel to sunny skies. Their games were cancelled on June 1, but they ended up posting a 2-2 record vs. teams from Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas before returning home.

Along the way, they befriended a family from Moore that was staying in their hotel because their home had been destroyed by the earlier tornado.

“They came to watch our tournament game on Sunday,” Schreyer said, adding that the team gave their tickets to the Women’s World Series title game to the family because it occurred after their flight home.

Early in their trip to Oklahoma, the Abbotsford Outlaws 18-and-under girls team viewed the wreckage left behind by a tornado that touched down in Moore, Okla.