SPORTS

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May 11, 2010

With regional bid, Chicago's season continues

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Softball was psyched to discover that their 2009–2010 season is not over.

Chicago (24–13–1) received an at-large bid for the NCAA D-III Division Championship at Simpson College in Indianola, IA, Thursday, May 13.

“We are extremely excited to have earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament,” head coach Ruth Kmak said. “Only 60 teams receive this honor every year, and we are lucky to have been selected.”

“When we found out [Tuesday] morning, I felt relieved and so, so happy,” fourth-year first baseman Kathleen Duffy exclaimed. “We’ve worked so hard and finally, have gotten rewarded for it.”

The NCAA Championship tournament is a double elimination format. The top eight teams will be playing each other in a bracket. If they lose, the teams are transferred to the second chance bracket. The champions of these respective brackets will face each other in a final match. If the undefeated team wins this as well, the tournament is over. If they lose, a second game will be played.

The division is heavily stacked. The sole team Chicago has already faced this year is second-ranked Illinois Wesleyan, whom the Maroons lost to in a doubleheader. The Maroons, ranked eighth, will be facing top seed Linfield (35–5) Thursday.

However, Chicago is undeterred.

“[The team] has really shown everyone that we have what it takes to compete at the highest level, and we’re not done yet,” Duffy continued. “So this is not an ending to a season, it’s a new beginning. Everyone in regionals is now 0–0, and we have work to do.”

This fresh start could be what Chicago has been waiting for all season. Ever since the team’s stellar spring break performance in Florida, they have been marred by inconsistency. They went 10–2 in Florida, but after their return to Chicago experienced trouble defensively.

“We hope to represent our region well and play our best,” Kmak continued. “We will have to be on top of our game as we will be facing some of the best softball teams in the country in our regional.”

“If we play our game, we will surprise everyone,” said Duffy.

For Duffy, this is a strong end to a beautiful final season. She has set two all-time records for Chicago: most RBIs and most home runs. Yet for her, these individual accomplishments pale in comparison to the team’s shot at regionals.

“The last time we got a bid to regionals was in 2007, my freshmen year,” she continued. “It was an amazing experience, and our team had a blast.”

“I’m thrilled to be ending my softball career full circle with a return trip to the NCAA regionals.”

“We will take it one game at a time and try to leave it all on the field each and every game,” Kmak added.

The Maroons will next face Linfield Thursday at Simpson College in Indianola, IA.

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