Let me pose a couple questions to you. What makes a last place team in a conference into a contender for a conference title? The simple answer is to earn wins; the more wins a team has, the higher in the standings they will be. Next question then. How does a team take one successful season and begin to start building a tradition? Again, the answer to this question is simple as well, you continue to win; which is exactly what the 2013 Saints softball team has continued to do.
After posting the best season in school history by a landslide, the team did what any perennial winning program does; they win more. Going into this weekend’s final two double-headers in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference against Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington, the Saints sit one win below their total of 33 from last season. However, the teams winning percentage has raised once again, going from .644 last season to an astounding .711 so far this year. To put this into perspective, the Major League Baseball World Series champion hasn’t had a winner with this high of a winning percentage in the last 10 season. Take a moment to think about that one.
But there is one significant difference from those 10 World Series Champions to this year’s softball team. They all won a championship.
“We want to win this conference title,” senior starting pitcher Taylor Bakos said. “We also want to qualify for regionals,” added senior catcher Aubree Pocklington.
However a humble senior Madi Davis noted that “Unless we as a team make it happen, none of that will happen.”And she is definitely right. The Saints are without a doubt different than any other team. For instance, take the game at defending conference champion Montana State Billings a couple weeks ago. The Saints jumped out to a huge lead early before the weather and some timely Yellowjacket hitting completely changed the game. Before you know it, MSUB is right back in the game down 10-9. After earning two more runs in the top half of the next inning, the Yellowjackets rallied to take the lead. But these Saints aren’t the type players to give up.
“The best way to describe our team is that we have perseverance,” Pocklington said. “We feed off of each other; and that’s very contagious,” stated Bakos.
By creating this atmosphere within the team, the Saints have collected a number of come from behind wins this season, including the 18-15 thriller they pulled out at MSUB.
“We really don’t get nervous if we’re down runs,” senior Joslyn Eugenio said. “We just keep playing.”
Having this mindset of just playing the game is something these four seniors want to leave here for this program. “This program has come to the point where each year we are building something and trying to push it to new levels. Although we might not view it like that because we are just out here playing,” stated Davis who will graduate this spring with a degree in psychology.
This type of building that Davis referred to might have actually started a few years ago. In 2010 the Saints won 20 games. As Eugenio put it, “some players were just here to be here and have a softball team. Comparing that team to this year’s team it seems like this is more of a family.”
The following year, Pocklington and Davis arrived on campus as transfers. In that season the Saints dropped to only nine total wins. Much like the year prior, Pocklington added that some people on the team were here for different reasons. “This year’s team has a common goal as far as what we want to accomplish,” Davis noted.
As far as what have been the biggest changes from last year to this year, Bakos said the team has been focusing a lot on the small things. “It’s the little things that count. The little things are what help to build a team and a program.”One of the best parts about these girls is how humble and positive they are as a group. They could walk around campus like the “big dogs” if they wanted since they are the first team to be ranked at SMU since the 2008-09 men’s basketball team. They’ll also be the program with the best win percentage in school history most likely as well. But the reality is, these girls are more content with just having fun and being good people. All four of these girls will graduate this spring with degrees and move on to new parts of their lives.
For now, they are just living in the moment. “We just come out and we just play. It’s truly just a good atmosphere to be around,” Davis said. With this mindset, the team goes into undoubtedly the biggest four game series in program history. With four games remaining, the team currently sits atop in the conference. If things go as planned, the team could earn its first ever conference title, and second overall in school history.
How do these girls plan to stay on top and finish out this magical ride? It’s simple really. Just show up and do what they do best; play. Although it’s so basic, it’s just that style that has taken this program from the bottom, straight to the 5th ranked team in the West Region.
“It’s one of those things where you just show up and do your job,” said Eugenio.
In all honesty, there’s really no other way to look at it, especially for these girls.
“We just have to take it one game at a time,” remarked Davis with a smile.