On April 26, the Emerson women's softball team found themselves embroiled in a bitter pitcher's duel for the GNAC title with the St. Joseph's College Monks.
The Lions' ace pitcher Kelsey Tuthill gave up a run in the top of the fourth, giving the Monks a 1-0 lead. The Monks couldn't hold Emerson at bay long enough, though, and the Lions tied it in the bottom of the sixth.
Sophomore Lynn Herman said she never once lost faith in her team.
"There was that nervous jitter inside every one of us, but we never for a second doubted we could do it," the broadcast journalism major said. "We always believed that we had a fighting chance, we were the home team, and we never gave up, and I think that's the biggest thing. We always just kind of had confidence that we would come back."
In the seventh inning, with the winning run at third, Head Coach Phil McElroy called on captain Bridget Farago to drive in the winning run.
"He asked me if I thought I could win the game for the team, and without even thinking twice, my answer was 'Of course, yes,' the junior writing, literature and publishing major said. "I knew that my coach had confidence in me and I knew that my teammates were counting on me, so basically I was just hoping to get up and just do it."
Do it, she did, and after three straight victories in the tournament's final rounds, the Lions found themselves the owners of the GNAC title.
This year the Lions, all of whose in-conference games were doubleheaders, lost only three to GNAC opponents and were never swept. An eight-game winning streak to round out the season led up to the team's tournament bid.
Despite all this, the Lions didn't let their success get to their heads.
"I think for the most part we knew that we belonged in that tournament and we knew that we belonged in the championship game-we were seeded first-but you never want to go into a game thinking that you have it," Herman said. "You want to go into the game being prepared for it."
With the GNAC win comes an auto-bid into the Division III women's softball tournament. This year will mark the Lions' second shot in the NCAA's, the first being the 2007 season. That year, they were bested by Wellesley in their third game of the tournament.
Farago, who was a freshman during the team's first NCAA appearance, said this year's bid-and the bonds she forged while gaining it-hold more significance for her.
"It was a good first year experience [participating my freshman year], but this year I think it means so much more," she said. "The seniors are my best friends both on the field and off the field, so it was more of a determination thing, wanting to win it, and give my seniors a championship."
The Lions will face either Ithaca College, Ramapo College or Endicott College in the first round of the tournament, which begins on May 9. During their spring break trip, the Lions beat Ithaca in a close 6-5 game. This year's team is untested against both Ramapo and Endicott, though they defeated Endicott in the NCAA's two years ago.
Herman said she expects her team to put on a good show in the tournament.
She said, "we think that we deserve to be there, and we are ranked third in our region, so we feel like we can definitely show our place there and maybe even do some damage."