The Wildcats softball team has reached the top. The women were recently ranked first in the nation for Division III colleges.
And not only does the team have a national ranking to boast about, but it also has five All-American players, as well as the first female from Linfield to earn the Ad Rutschman Small College Athlete of the Year Award.
Junior Staci Doucette was awarded the honor on Jan. 30 at the Stanford Theatre at the Nike World Headquarters campus.
“It’s a great honor. I feel really lucky to be a part of such an amazing team. I definitely owe it to every single one of them,” Doucette said. “It’s as much their honor as it is mine.”
Doucette was named the Northwest Conference Player of the Year and a first-team All-American for the past two consecutive seasons, according to the Linfield athletics website.
The Wildcats start the season on Feb. 23 against Concordia University for a preseason doubleheader and will play Whitworth University on Feb. 26 at home for a conference doubleheader.
“We have really high expectations this year, but we don’t want to let the ranking play a role in that. We are really excited for the season to start and hope to have another good year,” Doucette said.
Junior outfielder Jaydee Baxter elaborated on the team’s goals.
“There are going to be a lot of high expectations for what [the team] will contribute this year as a whole. We are very unselfish and team-oriented, so as long as we play our game and find a way to win, that’s all that matters,” she said.
The team has been preparing long and hard for another national championship. The women have been training for hours on end preparing for conference.
“Our practices average about four hours; we lift like men three days a week, and our schedules revolve around our practice times. We eat, sleep and breathe softball,” Baxter said. “I expect and know that we will continue to do what we normally do, and since we know what it takes to get there, we’ll work even harder to make that.”
Corrina Crocker/Sports editor
Corrina Crocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.