A near Cinderella Season concludes after duels against Western and Concordia

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Samantha Stanfield #10 Ace Pitcher

Gabriel Strasbaugh, Staff Reporter

After a season that included wins, loses and cancelations, the Wildcats’ softball season concluded after a 9-2 loss to Concordia Irvine. The loss came just two days after sending the Vikings of Western Washington University (WWU) packing from Regionals. 

Junior and Ace pitcher Samantha Stanfield said beating WWU highlighted the Wildcats resilience throughout the season. 

“It was hey, we got nothing to lose right now,” Stanfield said. “Just go give it our all and it’s Western.” 

Stanfield noted her own success from the season culminated in her opportunities against the Vikings. 

“Sending them home [was] a big plus and I think the two wins at Western for me personally was just a big achievement,” Stanfield said. “I pitched very well, I hit my spots very well and having the defense like I did was great. When they got the hits, we were able to get them out.”     

Maddy Zerr #19 Thrid Base

Stanfield closed the door in the last two innings to secure a win in their first elimination game of the regional tournament. Senior third base, Maddy Zerr had her best performance of the season with three hits on four at bats posting two runs on the board. 

“It was emotional, that’s for sure,” Zerr said. “Honestly early on, they really embarrassed us and they killed us. It was nice to come back at the end of the year and just prove it doesn’t matter how you play at the beginning of the year; it’s how you play at the end of the year.” 

With the possibility of moving on or going home, emotions and tension rise in the postseason. Zerr said these games are decided within one or two decisions by the entire lineup. 

“On postseason, these games happen quite often,” Zerr said. “Everyone is so well matched and not as much in the regular season. In that postseason moment where you have two number one pitchers going at it, in those low scoring games, one base hit changes the game, or one defensive play changes the game.”

Head coach Alison Mitchell said this season showed development of chemistry with the players on the team. Both on and off the field, the team’s focus involved committing to avoiding any positive COVID-19 tests putting the season in jeopardy. 

“Never in my life have I had to be so involved in what happens in personal lives than this year,” Mitchell said. “The risk of the virus was so real, and you saw what happened to us. Our postseason was a five-week span where we played 11 games and three total practices, and we still did what we did.” 

Questions surrounded the team with the possibility the games could be cancelled in an instant. The culture of the locker room gets left up to the mindset of her players according to Mitchell.

“This was a very weird year for players and everyone and it was a true test of your team chemistry,” Mitchell said. “Along with a culture of, are you really going to buy in and put the team first? Or are you that person that sits with that mindset of yeah, but.” 

For the players, Mitchell said, the moments are what they play for and what they remember once their career is all said and done. 

“Old sport adages like, you aren’t gonna remember all the games you played or the at bats you had or the pitches you threw,” Mitchell said, “but you’re gonna remember the feelings you felt. The times you spent with your teammates remembering the road trips being on a 13-hour bus ride to Billings and all the stuff we did. You’re gonna remember getting picked for regionals and having 48 hours for us to turn around, fly out and feeling like it was absolutely chaos.”

Some moments, home and away, like the trip to Billings stood out to Mitchell. 

“You’ll remember when I sent you to the beach because we had an off day because it was a weird regional,” Mitchell said. “It’s about, do you want to be a part of something bigger than yourself and have a shared experience with these common bonds most people don’t get to experience?” 

For seven seniors, memories are all that is left of being part of the Wildcat softball team. Memories of a team that came together with what Zerr said to be a “25% chance of making the tournament,” to one game away from a national’s appearance.