April was a wild and crazy month as always with spring weather, rescheduled games and attempting to fit 22 conference games in 30 days. It seems like all anybody ever does these days is talk about the weather, however I can't help but mention that this was the first spring I have coached in rain, freezing rain, hail and snow! Team parkas, headbands and hand warmers were utilized at far too many games, but regardless of the weather we sure had a lot of fun.
The conference season started out with a big 13-4 win over regional and conference opponent St. Kate's. Shortly after, we also took down rival and nationally ranked #6, St. Thomas. The remainder of the season the team struggled with consistency, but knew the talent was there to beat the top teams.
In addition to practices and games the team enjoyed brinner (breakfast for dinner) together in the team room over Easter break. I thoroughly enjoyed flipping pancakes across the room and having the team catch them on their plate or in their mouths. An unknown and hidden talent that will definitely be revisited in the future.
Additional practices inside called for some creativity. The coaches led various team building activities, including a marble concentration challenge, blind teammate navigation through a "landmine" and a team pickleball tournament.
The conference season ended up with a disappointing 5th place finish, as our conference only allows 4 of the 12 teams to compete in the end of year conference tournament. A proposal has been put together to increase the number of teams allowed to compete, as it is one of the lowest percentages accepted in all of DIII.
However, due to our late non-conference double header with UWEC (who was ranked 2nd in the WIAC and 3rd in the Great Lakes Region), we were able to add to our strength of schedule and regionally ranked wins. The team lost a close game 1 and bounced back for a big 10-1 victory in game 2. Although we didn’t make our conference tournament, our schedule was strong enough and we beat enough ranked teams to receive an at-large bit to the NCAA Regional tournament!
The appearance at the Pella, Iowa regional was the team’s second trip to the NCAA tournament in two years. The team ended up losing both games in the regional tournament but gained valuable experience for the future. Once you get your team hooked on the feeling of post season they are addicted and want it back the following year! Excited for the bright future of our program and to welcome Team 45 next fall.
CSB Head Softball Coach