TLU softball returns to campus as National Champions
Bulldogs won first Division III national title in school history
SEGUIN, Texas – Last Tuesday, the Texas Lutheran University softball team was still relishing in their first-ever Super Regional Championship as they hopped on a bus to Tyler, Texas, preparing to compete in the program's first NCAA College World Series.
Five games and seven days later, the Bulldogs return home to Seguin as first-time national champions.
With a dominant run through the tournament, culminating in an impressive sweep of Emory in the championship series, TLU had claimed the school's first national title of any kind in over four decades.
"I don't think there's words for that," said head coach Wade Wilson. "We're extremely blessed to represent Texas Lutheran University and I think our kids have done a great job. These are first-class kids and I think they have a lot to be proud of. Things just worked out and lined up for us this year. The team chemistry was phenomenal. We didn't have any outside drama. They believed in each other, they played for each other."
"Honestly, it did not feel real until that last out," said sophomore outfielder Kelly Jurden. "We kept on telling ourselves that it's just another game. In that last half inning, I was still telling myself that we still need three outs. I was letting it creep in a little bit, but I kept it out until I caught that last ball, that's when I finally let it sink in. We were so excited, jumping around, having a good time. That's what it's all about."
"It's just so exciting, so full of emotion," said senior third baseman Kassie Maddox. "To be able to experience it with my teammates and my sisters is a dream. It was all a team effort. All 20 girls had a hand in this championship. It was just an experience and a dream for every single one of us."
The Bulldogs brought the trophy to the alumni center where they were welcomed by family, friends and staff members, and given a chance to reflect on their remarkable season.
"It's more than overwhelming," Wilson said. "Our initial plan was to come back last night and I'm sure glad we waited until this morning. We got to sleep on this, then wake up this morning and be around them again, so it's been a lot of fun."
"Watching the video that was just played right now, seeing the highlights and the winning outs... that's it," said freshman pitcher and outfielder Chassety Raines. "We just did that. That's the end of the road for this year and we won. We are national champions."
"I wouldn't want to go out any other way," Maddox said. "My tears are tears of joy. Some are of sadness, knowing I won't step on the field again, but how else would you want to go out? I'm leaving as a national champion, so that alone is enough."
Two seniors leave the program at the top of the Division III softball world. Their legacy will be enshrined on campus for decades to come in the Texas Lutheran Hall of Fame. Now, as it has been in the past, it's up to the rest of the team to carry that legacy forward in the years to come.
"We had high standards coming in this year and we now know for sure that we can meet them," Raines said. "Every single year going from here, we're going to have those high standards again."
"There's no telling what we'll be able to do in the next two years," Jurden said. "Just looking at all of the experience that we've gained this year, the awesome freshmen that we have, the strong sophomore class and all of the juniors that are going to be seniors, it's going to be a lot of fun to see what we can do."
For now, though, one phrase is all that matters -- one that will echo in the hearts and minds of this team and all they've touched.
The 2019 Texas Lutheran Bulldogs are NCAA Division III National Champions.
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