The Maroons learned just yesterday that they would be taking the field at least one more time this season, as they were selected to play at the NCAA DIII Softball Championship.
The squad received an at-large bid to the 62-team field. The selection is just Chicago’s 10th in history. All of its prior selections have occurred after 2000. The last time the South Siders were selected was in 2014, when they were eliminated after two disappointing losses to Thomas Moore and UW–Whitewater.
Third-year third baseman Maggie O’Hara, who was a member of the 2014 team, is hopeful about this opportunity to improve upon the 2014 performance. “Making regionals is such a huge accomplishment for us,” she said. “Everything we’ve done this entire year has gotten us to this place. But getting to regionals isn’t enough, especially not for us upperclassmen who have been there before. We’re all incredibly eager to improve upon a disappointing regionals berth in 2014.”
O’Hara also commented on the importance of the tournament for the squad’s four fourth-years: Jordan Poole, Devan Parkison, Kathleen Kohm, and Kristin Lopez. She said, “We are led by an amazing senior class, who’ve excelled at every step of the way. There’s no better class in terms of quantifiable talent and leadership to lead us to a successful, and hopefully very long post season.”
The squad will leave Wednesday afternoon for Trine University, and will then face off against Wheaton College on Thursday in the regional round of the tournament. Regionals are played in a double elimination format, and the champion of the four teams will advance to super-regionals the following week.
Chicago goes into the game confident, having played Wheaton at the end of April. In that match up, they picked up two 1–0 victories over the Thunder.
“We’ll play Wheaton as our first game in regionals, who we recently swept in two 1–0 contests, one of which featured a no hitter by Jordan Poole,” O’Hara said. “The team couldn’t be more excited at the opportunity to face their ace for the third game; this time I think we’ll be ready to clobber her.”
O’Hara is referring to Wheaton’s star pitcher, Katie Thornton. Thornton represented the Thunder on the mound for both games of the doubleheader earlier this season. Thornton was outperformed though, as Chicago’s Poole threw a no hitter while Thornton allowed six hits and one run. In the second, Thornton allowed only two hits, but the Maroons were efficient in converting to secure the lone run of the game.
O’Hara is confident about her team’s ability to secure a third win against Wheaton. “Our team has been firing on all cylinders all season, our pitching staff has been amazing, our bats explosive, and our defense impeccable. I’m incredibly excited at our chances this weekend and for the rest of the post season to come!”
Chicago’s first tournament game against Wheaton will start at noon at Trine University in Angola, IN.