Before our first game today, my coach passed around gold (Pitt color) sweatbands to the entire team. As he was passing them out, he was talking and I'll have to paraphrase as I was tearing up... "I want to pass out these bands to show our support for Shawn. If we all play with the amount of courage and determination he has shown in the past eight months, we'll do really well in this tournament."
Our first game started and I was pumped up and nervous at the same time. I walked a batter and I never do that. Illinois ended up scoring 5 runs in the first inning and we were behind. We battled back to tie the score at 5 after one innning and ended up winning the game 11-9. It felt good to get the first game in the books. I even batted well, going 2-2 with a double.
The next game was versus Wisconsin. We watched them score 23 runs in a game earlier in the day. Their entire team hit well. And they started off well against us, too. They scored 4 runs in the first and once again we were down. But, in the 4th inning we exploded for 11 runs and cruised to a 17-8 victory. I was so emotional...I cried shaking hands with the other team after the game (they were probably thinking "who is this idiot?") And then I must have hugged all the Pitt players as I was still in happy tears. It felt so good to be able to help us win.
So, we are now in the final 8 (out of 68 or so teams) and play our rivals West Virginia tomorrow morning. That won't be easy. But, then again...has anything been easy this year???