Coe softball embracing weirdness, will host first-ever super regional against Hiram College
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Coe softball team was on the verge of elimination before they rattled off three consecutive wins to secure their first regional championship since 2009. The Kohawks say they play their best softball when they’re embracing their weirdness.
“We kind of realized we weren’t ourselves during that game,” senior pitcher Hannah Ausenhus said about their loss on the regional championship. “We kind of came up with the motto to be weird, so we were all just weird in the dugout. We were all ourselves and kind of didn’t hold back anything.”
After being named the American Rivers Conference regular season champions and hosting the conference tournament, Coe admitted they felt pressure during the NCAA Tournament. The Kohawks put an emphasis on getting back to having fun and they brought that back to Cedar Rapids by ending practice this week with a game of kickball.
“We’re still putting in work. These guys work incredibly hard, but to put in a little bit of that fun just to balance it out where they can be themselves, have fun together and enjoy the journey that’s coming with winning all these games, I think has really helped them kind of just shift their perspective,” Coe softball head coach Jake Koolbeck said.
“You’ll see smiles, you’ll see a lot of laughter just like we have going on today at practice,” senior catcher Skyler Stookey explained. “We’re not tense at all I’d say. That’s a big aspect of sports is that mental toughness side of it. When we enjoy the game that we all grew up loving as little girls, we’re having fun.”
With a 35-9 overall record, their 10 seniors have played a huge role in their lineup. As one of 16 division three teams still playing softball, this season has almost been a pinch me moment for the first-year head coach.
“I had high expectations for our group, but when you actually get to this point, it hits you a little bit different. Yes, it really was something that we could actually do, so it’s been a little unreal at times, but it’s been a lot of fun,” Koolbeck said.
This group continues to make history. Friday when they open up their best-of-three series, they’ll be the first Coe team ever to host an NCAA super regional.
“After the conference tournament, we didn’t really think we’d be back here at Clark Field other than for practices. I think it’s really exciting that we get to come out one more time this weekend in front of our home crowd who has been really supportive,” Stookey said.
“That means a lot because we’ll have our Coe community here, we’ll have the Cedar Rapids community and then, we’ll have everyone just be able to be in their own beds. Be able to be home and not travel. That’s huge for us,” Ausenhus said.
The Kohawks hope their journey doesn’t end in the super regional as they aim to get back to the College World Series for the first time in 14 years.
“Being so close is so surreal and we’re really excited to continue to push and go reach that goal of Texas,” Stookey said.
Game one for the Coe against Hiram College is set for 2 P.M. on Friday at Clark Softball Field.
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