NWC tourney spreads Catball fever

Hey ’Cats! It’s a great week to be alive, isn’t it? The sun has finally come out from under the boots of nine months of crappy weather, classes are coming to a head, and we’ve got a fantastic weekend of sports coming up on campus.

The No. 8-ranked baseball team is playing three home games against George Fox University. There are two on April 22 beginning at 1 p.m. and one April 23 at noon. That’s the same baseball team that’s tops in the Northwest Conference and just knocked off No. 7 Chapman twice last weekend, for the record.

As if that weren’t enough, the track and field and softball teams are hosting the NWC Championships on the same day for their respective sports.

In short, any way you walk across campus, Saturday sports will be taking place. That’s what I call the jackpot.

You know, it’s really about time Catball gets a home stand that lasts longer than one day. It’s easy to forget amid the growing stack of national and school records, which now includes junior Emilee Lepp’s single-season D-III record for home runs as well as school records for consecutive wins and most NWC victories, that our softball field gets wet pretty damn often thanks to the nature of rainy McMinnville. Logically, it follows that our juggernaut of a softball program had to reschedule or move a lot of games. In fact, of the 40 games that our ladies have played so far this season only 10 of them were at home. 10!

“Home field advantage?” Please. The ’Cats are road warriors and would probably still win if the NWC tournament got moved to Mars.

They’ve won everywhere from elementary schools to middle schools to hostile and sometimes nasty road environments. Last weekend at Pacific, some overzealous (that’s putting it nicely) football players thought it’d be funny to, shall we say, “canvas” the visiting team dugout before Linfield arrived. Their material for distribution amounted to little pieces of red paper with this columnist’s name all over them.

Apparently, the Boxer crowd was so desperate to do something to gain an edge (since their stinky 12-14 conference record certainly wasn’t doing the job) that they took to harassing our ladies with chants about the now-subsided controversy regarding my column two weeks ago. The end result was an 8-3, 2-0 sweep on Friday and a 9-4, 8-0 sweep on Sunday in Mac. You sure showed them, Pacific! Showed them how to roll over and die against the best team in the country, that is.

That wasn’t even the worst environment Catball has triumphed in this year. In games earlier against Willamette University, Bearcat fans took to making personal attacks and aggressively rude chants and jeers not only aimed at our ladies but at their parents, too. I bet you can guess how that one turned out, too. If you guessed four wins in two days and a combined score of 22-8 over, you get an A for the day.

Even after that spanking, Willamette still wanted to try again and had a player suspended from the NWC tournament after she organized a Facebook group designed to bring fans out to Mac and jeer the ’Cats in their hometown this weekend. The Facebook group has since been taken down, probably in an attempt by Willamette to save face after the first embarrassment.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, can shake this team on its seemingly unstoppable drive toward the final frontier of sports: a Division III championship. I was lucky enough to finally get out to the softball field last Sunday. I saw what Catball is all about, and from what I watched, the billing this team has received this season is 100 percent accurate.

After coming this far and going through adversity like these players have, the close bond they share and the energy they exude was almost tangible. To close, I’d like to read from the book of “Fight Club,” Chapter 6: “You see a guy come to fight club for the first time, and his butt is a loaf of white bread. You see this same guy here six months later, and he looks carved out of wood.” Well, our ladies certainly began stronger than cookie dough, but make no mistake: This team is carved out of steel.

Chris Forrer/For the Review
Chris Forrer can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

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