HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For the first time, Houston native Janae Jefferson is playing on college softball's biggest stage. But this is not the University of Texas standout's inaugural trip to the Women's College World Series.
"This is the dream of a lifetime," Vincent Jefferson, Janae's father, explained during an interview on Friday. "She's been thinking about this since she started playing at the age of six. She did take a trip as a little girl to the College World Series, and that just solidified everything."
Janae's proud parents chat with ABC13 via Zoom from Oklahoma City in advance of Saturday's WCWS match-up between Texas and Oklahoma that will air live on ABC13 at 2 p.m. But it's another family member, older brother Jalen, who gets credit for launching the career of the Big 12 Conference's all-time leader in hits.
"He's the reason why she started playing," Vincent noted. "She saw him playing baseball and she came up to me and said she wanted to do this."
"She's 6 years old, and we're trying to get her to play somewhere," recalled Catherine, Janae's mother. "We had no idea how competitive she was - we never picked up a ball. Once I found Humble Girls Softball League, that's when it just took off from there. We're very proud of her."
And she's proud of them.
Immediately after earning a trip to the World Series, Janae, a four-time All-America selection, talked about what reaching the Women's College World Series means to her parents.
"I know they wanted me to go to the World Series since I was little," Janae said following her team's Super Regional victory at Arkansas. "Just allowing them to have that trip as well will have a huge impact for me - thanking them for so much that they've done for me."
Dad's reaction to that?
"Okay, I'm not going to cry," Vincent said smiling. "It's everything. That's my baby girl. We're so proud of both of our children. It was really emotional when I heard her say that."
And this family trip will grow more emotional - and lengthier if Texas can top Oklahoma Saturday and move within one win of the World Series finals.