by Tom Chambers
Wednesday morning at 6:35 saw the University of La Verne softball team depart for the regional playoffs in Iowa. The Leopards are the No. 1 seeded team in the West Regions double elimination tournament that will give one team a shot at a national title.
“Anything less than first will be a disappointment,” said head coach Julie Kline.
It is safe to say the Leopards are expecting to do well. Team confidence is high and players have had more than a week’s rest for the big games ahead.
With their overall record at 32-8, the Leopards enter the tournament a young, but experienced team. Last year ULV advanced to the regionals, finishing forth, but are counting on drawing most of their big game experience from the Lead Off Classic Tournament, in which they finished third.
“We played some of the top teams in the nation during the Lead Off Classic. We’re counting on our experience from that tournament to set the tone for regionals,” said Kline.
With excitement brewing, the three seniors, Robin Haaker, Kadie Tillema and Michelle Bocanegra, will be the leaders and captains for the tournament.
“They’re great. They have set good examples by working hard,” said freshman Paige Hanawalt.
Possibly facing the end of their season, the team tries to make the most of the time it has left together. Kline says that they have truly turned into a team.
“These young women are what keep me coming back year after year. This season has been a dream. I believe that they know how proud of them I am,” said Kline.
Kline is not alone in her emotions. Every player on the team is respectful and admiring of Kline and the job she has done with the team this year.
“The only thing I could say to coach Kline is thanks,” said Haaker.
Despite teary eyed thoughts from Haaker, minus real tears, the team remains focused and dedicated to the slogan that got them this far, “We Don’t Settle.”