Time to finish what we started

Nate Barrett/Oregon Athletics

Oregon swept Minnesota over the weekend to become one of the eight teams to advance to the WCWS.

After winning super regionals and knowing we get to take off for Oklahoma City, everyone is on their toes. Everyone can feel it: This year is different for Oregon softball.

My freshman year we beat Texas to go to the Women’s College World Series. The entire year we had repeated to ourselves, “Only eight teams make it,” so when we got to the WCWS, it was like we had accomplished our goal.

Last year we knew we wanted to be at the WCWS again and we wanted to compete for a national title. But we overlooked what was right in front of us and never got the chance.

This year we took it one pitch at a time and focused on the task at hand. The entire year our goal has been “Mission 8.1,” which is to be one of the eight teams at the WCWS and then the last team standing. Only one team gets to end this tournament with a win.

Every week we have a meeting with our sports psychologist, Dr. David Mikula. We talk about issues or things that are happening with our team that we need to address. For example, we talked about being ranked No. 1 in the country when the polls came out. It was the first time in school history that we were the No. 1 team, and we wanted to talk about how that affected us mentally. He has helped us with countless situations, and when the postseason started he asked the returning players to talk about the difference between this year and last.

Older girls on the team tried to explain it, but every person ended with, “I don’t know, I just can’t explain it, but it’s different this year.” This year is special. A lot of teams say that, but we have the team chemistry and talent to pull this thing out. The only team that can beat us is ourselves.

One of the most challenging parts of life in general right now is school. All of us are so excited about what we’re doing on the field that it’s been extremely difficult to focus on school. But that is why we’re here and playing for a university! Most schools are already out for the summer, but because we are on quarter system, finals are coming up. Luckily our academic adviser is an immense help and is going to join us on the road this week and make sure we get all of our school work taken care of.

Last weekend against Minnesota our fans were awesome once again. Home-field advantage is an understatement for us at Howe Field. This year Eugene has had our backs through every up and down.

I will never forget Sunday afternoon. In the bottom of the seventh inning, just one out away from clinching our trip to the WCWS, the crowd started chanting, “O-K-C! O-K-C!” I remember looking down at the grass and I couldn’t help but smile, and I just listened and took in that moment.

It’s surprising we are the only Pac-12 school making the trip to OKC this year. However, upsets happen. That doesn’t mean the Pac-12 was overrated. It’s just the way the cards fell this year. I still believe the Pac-12 is one of the most challenging softball conferences in the country, and it always will be. There are some amazing players and amazing teams in this league. We hope to represent the Pac-12 in the way we carry ourselves and the amount of pride we play with.

Every week we talk about how the road to Oklahoma City starts here in Eugene. Well, we made it! Now it’s time to finish what we started. I have no doubt the girls to the left and to the right of me have the potential to help our team to the final three-game series in OKC.