May 15, 2012
Well, it has been quite a season!
We started the year with a 4-12 record, but were able to hang with teams like Nebraska and Oklahoma State. Every game was an up-hill battle from that point on but we steadily improved each time we took the field. First the hitting came along and then the defense tightened up. Finally came the pitching and suddenly we were halfway through the regular season.
Conference games are a unique experience. They are often the games in which we feel we have everything under control, yet in the Horizon League, anything can happen. Each and every game was a battle and sometimes we did not come out on top. But sometimes, it was like magic. Sometimes Brittany Gardner was lights out (well, most of the time really). Sometimes Lauren Arceneaux and Annie Korth had key RBI hits. Sometimes Lauren Moore threw out the slapper that could start a rally for the other team. These moments happened just enough to land us in second place in the conference heading into the Horizon League Tournament.
Second place was the perfect position for our team heading into the conference tournament. We got a bye in the first round and once the games started, wins over Green Bay and Butler earned us a place in the championship game. The team was so happy and so certain that this would be our year, that we would be the first Loyola softball team to win the tournament, but it just wasn't meant to be. We fought long and hard (LA) but that wasn't enough to top Valparaiso and earn ourselves a bid to NCAA Regionals.
The loss was even more devastating because of how close our team was this year. I have never played softball with a team like this. From the seniors right on down to the freshmen, we were all friends and not just the type of friends you are with certain teammates just because you have to be. We truly wanted to spend every moment possible with each other and wanted to win the tournament not just to get to regionals, but also because that we could spend another week on campus with each other. The team is only losing three of our own but it will still never be the same without the seniors. We will never have this team again.
The tournament was a disappointing end to what was a strong season. We had a good record in conference and wins against NCAA teams DePaul, Northwestern and Valparaiso. After coming so close at the tournament and the fact that we are a young team, I hope the rest of the league is taking notice of the Ramblers! We are heading into the offseason knowing what it feels like to be so close, but not close enough and that feeling will serve as motivation as we get ready for 2013. We have a few months to train and get stronger, then we will be back. That is a promise.
Thank you for all of your support in 2012. Until next season!
Emily Bentley #27