This year was the first time in 9 years that Arizona Softball has been able to go to the Women’s College World Series (WCWS). The WCWS is where the top 8 teams in the country go head to head for a national championship. This is after a grueling regional of 4 teams where we played Harvard and then Auburn twice. I had a pinch-hit opportunity in the regional against Auburn where I hit a single up the middle that scored our only two runs. Pinch hitting is definitely a mindset, and I am glad that I was able to come through in that situation. The super-regional, that next weekend, was against Ole Miss, where we won two games to clinch a ticket to the WCWS in Oklahoma City.
The Monday after super-regionals we had practice and we left on Tuesday morning. No journey is without some road blocks; we got to school at 5:30 am to find out that a bird flew into the engine of our plane. We had to wait until 1pm to get a new plane. The flight was bumpy with lots of clouds and tornado warnings, but we got there and were ready to roll!! Unfortunately, we missed our practice slot, so our first stop was the NCAA Banquet that involved food and mingling with former teammates from other teams. I even got a picture with the Championship trophy! At this banquet, the NCAA welcomed us to the WCWS and gave out a few awards for national players of the year. Soon after, we went to the hotel to go to bed.
Wednesday morning, it clear that it had rained the night before and would continue to be gloomy for the rest of the day. Practice at the USA Softball Hall of Fame complex was cancelled, so we went to an indoor facility to practice instead. After practice, we rested, and then were treated to gifts from our equipment lady, Emily, aka Santa! It was a Nike swag bag filled with a bunch of goodies. We also received this cute wristlet from Rawlings.
Thursday morning was game day! We warmed up on one of the fields behind the stadium field. Our bat bags were carried by volunteers around the ball park. That’s how you know you made it big time. It was a little strange though not carrying our own stuff. The locker room at the stadium field had name plates with our names on it and a gift from Degree. It was deodorant. Are they trying to tell us something? I am not mad though.
The field is a different experience. It feels like you are playing at a high-level minor league ball park. The stands are packed, it smells like ballpark food, and camera people are everywhere; by everywhere I mean mostly in the way. This stadium doesn’t feel too much different from our own beautiful Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium that was renovated/built this past year. Arizona softball has been lucky enough to have sold out games for weeks on end. We are used to playing for lots of people in a cozy atmosphere. HOF stadium is different because there are more spectators than actual fans there, so it does not necessarily feel like everyone is there just for your team or any team in general. The atmosphere is different and electric, but at the end of the day it is the same game that we can play anywhere in the country.
We won the first game against Washington. We lost to UCLA on Friday. Saturday there was a three-hour game delay during the first game of the day, we were the fourth game. Our game versus Alabama started at around 10:30/11pm. We were done around 1am, with unfortunately a loss playing on the biggest stage in the world.
After a five-hour plane delay, because a bird once again broke our plane, we finally flew back to Tucson.
Our season and my college softball career are now over. The end.