Are you having trouble focusing lately?
The weather is lovely, classwork is piling up and you need to squeeze as much fun out of what time is left with your friends.
Unfortunately, Linfield students, our baseball and softball teams are not going to help you focus. Both teams begin regionals in the next week and a half—softball on May 9 and baseball on May 15—and you will not want to look away.
How come? Well, Linfield has two amazing programs. Linfield baseball is number one in the country, while Linfield softball is number six in the country.
Baseball is looking to reach the NCAA tournament, and softball is looking to return to the Division III championship game for the fourth year in a row.
That’s right, the fourth year in a row. This has only happened once in the 31-year history of Division III softball when The College of New Jersey reached the championship game four times from 1982-85. Linfield students, we could possibly witness history being made.
Two of the best pitchers in the country—juniors Karina Paavola (22-2, 1.81 ERA) and Shelby VandeBergh (12-3, 2.12 ERA)—anchor the rotation, while the lineup was by far the best in the NWC, with a slash line of .361/.425/.564. Seniors Karleigh Prestianni, Rachelle Ridout and Megan Wallo could amazingly advance to the finals in every single year of their career. The softball team—and the rest of the Division III softball teams—discovers their fate with the announcement of Regional brackets today.
As for baseball, the team narrowly missed advancing to the NCAA tournament in 2011. The sting still remains for the players who were a part of the team.
“It’s nice to see that all of the hard work…paid off. What would mean more…is making a run at a championship and bringing back some hardware from Texas,” senior Tim Wilson said.
But the baseball team has a good chance to break through the regional barrier this year. With three of the best pitchers on the West Coast—sophomores Chris Haddeland and Aaron Thomassen and junior Zach Brandon—the pitching staff is excellent. Wilson and juniors Jake Wylie, Kramer Lindell and Nick Fisher have raked all year with cartoon-like OPS numbers of 1.057, 1.055, 1.134 and 1.076. Plus, excellent senior leadership and solid play have come from Nate McClellan, Jordan Harlow and Kyle Chamberlain.
Linfield students have been spoiled all year with fantastic baseball and softball. Now, when everyone is busy and trying to remain focused, the teams are rounding third and heading into the home stretch.
Good luck with focusing on everything. These two teams will make it difficult to look away.
Tyler Bradley/Sports columnist
Tyler Bradley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.