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University of Washington Softball’s Journey Back to the WCWS

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We recently sat down with University of Washington Softball coach, Heather Tarr to discuss the team’s 2nd place finish last year at the WCWS and this year’s team’s quest back to Oklahoma City. Here is what she had to say:

Reflecting Back on Last Year’s Second Place Finish
Last year was pretty amazing. We were, of course, disappointed to not bring home our second national championship, being so close to it. But looking back on it, we had six amazing seniors, and for them to finish on that high note of leading the team to so many wins and with so many highs, was pretty awesome. We also did this without our starting catcher, Morganne Flores, one of our most prolific offensive players. Our ability to finish second and compete for a national championship without her says a lot about this program and our players.

Assessing the 2019 Team
Our team this year is pretty diverse in experience level. We graduated so much continuity from the last three or four years, giving us a whole new identity. The senior class understands what it was like to not go to the College World Series, and then understands what it’s like to be in the scene at the world series, finishing third and second in the last two years. That experience is huge.

We also have nine newcomers, which is hard for our leadership group to read these young, new minds. It’s like being a coach; you have to teach. You have to bring people along with you. But this will feel exciting because those newcomers are going to learn fast, eventually level out and get us to the place we want.

What Matters
Relationships are important to our environment, which is hard when you live in a big city like Seattle. We’re not living in a small college town. We have so many things we can do, but I want to make this a small-time kind of experience, where you know everybody and you have organic relationships. Hearing our players really putting themselves out there with each other and really trying to grow themselves as human beings on a daily basis is something we value.

Culture is also significant. If you go down to the deeper roots of the word culture, it’s what’s in your petri dish. What’s inside includes how we act, how we behave and how we treat each other. I think one of the things that we try to teach to our players (besides the tactical parts of the game, of course), are what’s in your petri dish. On top of your talent, what’s going get us to where we want to go is our character and who we are as people–things that great parents breed in their children. In general, its selflessness, accountability, toughness, confidence based on preparation and this kind of mysterious one called husky fever. Those are our five core values that we really emphasize.

Where We are Going
The college softball season is challenging because you don’t get to play your competitive season until maybe halfway through the year. But to see this team, because of the new group and new vibe, is exciting. What we’re trying to do at this point in the season is to be able to build ourselves up, to understand we will feel highs and lows. What matters is how we deal with those lows, not necessarily how we experience the highs, and how durable can we be throughout the season.

—Blast Team