Monday, June 3, 2013

To "only" finish in the nation's top four ... The making of life-long champions.

UT Softball fell short of a national title this year, and "only" finished as one of the top four teams in the nation. ... They were a joy to watch as they marched to the College World Series. I watched them play at home in the Regionals and Super Regionals, and then on ESPN as they played in Oklahoma City at the College World Series. Through all the watching and rooting, I was consistently struck that the experiences these women were living is exactly how life-long champions are made.

Longhorns celebrate the no-hitter the sent
them to the College World Series.
The playoff system for NCAA softball and baseball is rigorous, grueling and fair. Once the UT Women made it to Oklahoma City, that meant that they were one of the top 8 teams in the country. From there it's a double elimination tournament, where fighting back through the elimination bracket is really tough. They beat Arizona State in the Championship Bracket, got beaten by a powerful Oklahoma, then in the Elimination Bracket beat Florida, before losing to Tennessee. In short, the softball team went 2-2 at the World Series, finishing strong amidst the best competition in the country. 

Pitcher Blaire Luna, who went 31-7 on
the season, pitched 288 pitches in one day,
pitching against both Florida and Tennessee.

I have been watching athletes and athletics for a long time. I know what quit looks like and I know what fight-to-the-end looks like. This team's run was long, exhausting and impressive. I couldn't be prouder ... and more importantly, I bet that Coach Connie and her crew feel the same way. 

Watching these student athletes play, I saw the same drive, persistence and work ethic demanded of anyone who wants to work and thrive in a  top-notch organization. Oh, and one more thing: the team GPA is 3.08, which is well above the university-wide average. Not bad at all.

These student athletes show the best of UT and the best of UT Athletics.

What a pleasure.

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