TYLER, Texas (KETK) – In their first year of Division II postseason eligibility, the UT Tyler softball team, qualified for the college world series, picking up where they left off at the Division III level. Now, a year later, the patriots are headed back, and this time with some unfinished business.
The UT Tyler Patriots are College World Series bound for the second straight season, continuing to live up to the program’s lofty standards.
“I am so excited. I mean, this is only our second year being able to go postseason and we’re going all the way again for two years in a row. I mean, it’s just a crazy feeling,” smiled Pitcher Tatum Goff.
“Oh, it’s an amazing feeling. We work so hard for this all year, and so for us to just see it come to life is just so refreshing and just takes the weight off our shoulders. But we’re not done yet, so we’re still going to get back to work and finish what we started,” added Shortstop Courtney Plocheck.
“I could not be more excited for this team, for all the work and long days in practice and this team from the growth in the fall to now, they’ve taught me to enjoy the journey more than any team has, and there’s more than one way to get here. So I couldn’t be more proud of them and it’s an opportunity to go represent UT Tyler,” explained Coach Mike Reed.
Throughout this year’s journey, Patriots Nation has been behind the softball team, which has meant the world to the players.
“It’s amazing. We have the best fanbase. They show up to every game, all the away games so far, and they really put in the time and effort to make us the players who we are and we are very thankful for them,” said Plocheck.
“It’s great we love it. I mean, the atmosphere here at UT Tyler has been, I’ve never felt anything like this before. And our fans, we love our fans to death. And I mean, we are just so happy whenever they call our name and we run out there and we hear our fans cheering for us,” added Goff.
For assistant coaches Shannon Klaus and Whitney Wyly, it’s a full-circle moment going to the World Series as players and now coaches.
“Just the connections we have together. Our other assistant also played here. So just being alumni is super special. Being able to create more memories with each group each year,” said Associate Head Coach Whitney Wyly.
“To have alumni on here that, you know, not only played and believed in the program but now are coaching, it’s a huge impact for us,” said Coach Reed.
Coach Wyly adds they continue to use their experiences as players to help this year’s Patriots.
“We had some kids do a great job of staying calm and collected. Maybe, you know, going out there and they were struggling or maybe they came from an at-bat that they didn’t do their best. They come in and get feedback and want to make adjustments each at-bat, and, and that’s a huge thing of just their successes, willing to take feedback and make adjustments every at-bat to be successful,” explained Coach Wyly.
“I think it brings a lot of experience to the table. So they have been in our shoes and they know what we go through and stuff like that with the work that we need to put in to be successful. So it really helps them to see eye to eye with us, the players,” added Plocheck.
The stellar pitching from former Rusk Lady Eagle, Tatum Goff, and Shae O’Leary was the driving force, punching the Pats’ ticket to Chattanooga.
“You can’t go the World Series with just one pitcher. And so its an opportunity to have the staff that we have and for Tatum to yesterday get us to the seventh with a chance to win that lead and then the same thing getting us to the sixth today just I thought both of them are invaluable to us but having a pitching staff like we have gives you a lot of confidence and we’ve known them all year long,” Coach Reed said.
“We work so well together. I love pitching with her. I mean, the whole pitching staff, we practice day in, day out. So I know that if maybe I don’t do well and someone else has come in or someone else gets to start like I know that they can go in there and get the job done. And I love me and Shae pitching together, we work really well together,” explained Goff.
“Tatum and Shea have done phenomenal for us all year. We’ve kind of rode on them a little bit and they’ve carried us. And today, thankfully, our offense helped them be able to relax in the circle, but they are absolutely amazing and just being able to stay on them and lean on them. They’ve done a phenomenal job for us all year,” said Coach Wyly.
Now the Patriots will take on Cal State San Marcos on Thursday, May 25, hoping to bring some more hardware back home to Tyler.