‘I think it’s in our grasp’: Linfield softball prepping for Division III World Series as top seed

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Last year was the first time the Linfield softball team had been to the Division III World Series since 2015.

This year they return, as one of only two teams that participated at last year’s event.

They are hoping that this year’s series goes a bit differently, as last year’s resulted in an 0-for-2 bounce.

“The butterflies are a little bit gone,” said junior second baseman Brynn Nelson, who leads the team in hitting at .496. “Of course, they’re always going to be there, but we know what it takes. We’ve been there once, so I think that helps a lot.”

The Wildcats softball team returned six of their nine starters from last year’s squad.

That consistency has paid off on the field, which helped lead to the team’s undefeated regular season.

“It’s hard to put into words. This team is very special,” said starting pitcher Tayah Kelley, who has already won 30 games this season. “Probably one of the most close-knit teams I’ve ever been on. Even last year, we were very close, but this year it’s so much about family and us being together, that it’s amazing.”

Nelson agrees that the word close-knit describes the team best, but she also had a few more to add.

“Committed or just hardworking. I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a group that cares so much and day in and day out puts so much hard work into everything,” said Nelson. “Even if you’re having a rough day, you look around and you’re like, ‘They’re still going every single day.’ It pushes me to be better, and I know it pushes everyone else to be better too.”

That resilience was necessary for the squad as their undefeated season ended during the playoffs.

In the super regional, the Wildcats had to win back-to-back games after a loss to keep their World Series dream alive.

All they did was run-rule their opponent in the fifth inning in both contests.

“Both of our regional and super regional series, facing that little bit of adversity, it’s great to see,” said Nelson. “You never know how someone or a team is going to react in a moment where we feel like we’re down. Just to see that we feel like we’ve been hit down a little bit, being able to respond was such a big deal.”

They’ll carry that confidence in themselves into this next tournament that could potentially stretch into next Wednesday.

“So much. So much,” said Kelley of how much she wants to bring a championship back to McMinnville. “The last few years we kind of thought we could get there, and this year, I think it’s in our grasp now.”

The top-seeded Linfield Wildcats will take on eighth-seeded Tufts on Thursday at 9 a.m. PT. in the first round of the World Series in Marshall, Tex. If they make the finals, they will then play a best-of-three series that would be played June 4-5.

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