Third baseman Sydney Pennington touched home plate, and was greeted by her teammates at the dugout entrance.
She lowered her head, and an oversized orange chain was draped over her neck. A large Oklahoma State logo hung as a pendant from the necklace.
This is OSU’s home run chain.
There aren’t many rules to the chain. To earn the chain, all you must do is hit the ball over the outfield fence. The chain belongs to whoever hit the most recent home run, until a teammate hits one.
“It is really cool because if someone hits a home run, the first thing is ‘where’s the chain?’,” Pennington said. “Everyone scatters trying to find the chain.”
Coach Kenny Gajewski said they introduced the chain several years ago, after assistant coach Jeff Cottrill was inspired while watching a Miami Hurricanes football game.
The Hurricanes introduced a “turnover chain” during the 2017 season, an idea OSU quickly adapted into a home run chain. Gajewski said the Cowgirls were the first softball team to begin the tradition, which has quickly spread to other teams.
“We are a copycat society, we copy things, they copy things and it kind of cool to know that started here,” Gajewski said.
Pennington said with current COVID rules, OSU cannot huddle around home plate like they would in previous seasons. She said she doesn’t mind this, because it makes for better photos and videos of teammates wearing the chain.
Catcher Reagan Wright said she enjoys the home run chain and compared it to passing the bat.
“If one girl hits you want to pass the bat to the next girl and let her hit,” Wright said. “So one home run, you get to keep it for a while and celebrate your home run but then you’re ready to give it off to the next person because everyone wants to go yard and hit one out.”
Pennington said the chain is not something teammates think about when they are in the batter’s box. She said it adds extra motivation to at-bats but doesn’t affect anyone’s performance when batting.
The home run chain doesn’t have a nickname, but Pennington said it is something the team will have to talk about.
The chain was recently updated. In 2021, the pendant on the chain was replaced with the Mizuno logo, the company OSU uses for bats and gloves. Gajewski said Mizuno is probably happy with the brand recognition they receive from the chain.
“It is really cool once you cross home plate to have someone waiting for you to give you the chain,” Pennington said. “It is definitely something cool to look forward to.”