This is the weekend the Cavalier softball squad has been working toward all season.
Last year the Cavs were the number-one overall seed in the tournament and lost their games, putting an end to a dream season.
“Last year I think there was a little shell-shock,” head coach Aubree Brattin said. “I have really had conversations with the sophomores, preparing the freshmen for what this weekend will look like.”
The Cavs will face Cowley at noon Saturday in Topeka, a team they split with earlier in the season. This regular season was a little bit of a disappointment to the team. The Cavs split some series that they probably should have swept.
“We weren’t used to losing games in the conference, especially to teams that we should be winning against,” Brattin said. “We didn’t perform as we expected in the regular season, and now this is our moment.”
For Brattin, she expects the losses this season and the major disappointment of last year to help the Cavs in this tournament.
“I definitely think that our losses have helped us along the way as far as learning from our mistakes and having to learn to overcome a little adversity,” Brattin said. “Every loss in my mind is a learning opportunity if we treat it that way.”
Due to the region adding two teams who are not in the Jayhawk conference, the Cavs are listed as the three seed, but are pretty much the four seed. This puts the squad on the same side of the bracket with Highland and Cowley
“It sucks that we’re the first team kind of put into this position, and we’re definitely going to have to beat the best to be the best,” Brattin said. “I do think my girls are prepared. I think they are ready. They are fighters and they don’t want their season to end.”
Sydney Koch is the Cavs’ number-one starting pitcher, and with regionals being pretty much do-or-die every game, the team may rely on Koch more than they did during the regular season.
“I would expect us to ride Sydney a little more than we have all year long,” Brattin said. “If I feel necessary, Sydney will likely see multiple games in the weekend.”
Shortstop Taylor Brunson has been a huge part of the Cavs’ success the last two seasons and says the failure of last year still stings the team.
“It was very disappointing last year not making it to nationals,” Brunson said. “That just makes us want to go more because we are the underdog now and we just want to prove everyone wrong.”
For Brunson, going to nationals would be a dream come true.
“It would mean the world to me,” Brunson said. “It would be such a fun experience just getting to play some more games with my best friends, because this is our last year, so I just want to play with them as long as possible.”
Brattin knows the team is aiming for greatness that they were unable to obtain last season.
“They want to go somewhere last year’s team didn’t get to go, and I think their eyes are set on the prize,” Brattin said. “It’s unfortunate for whoever stands in our way, I guess.”