LAFAYETTE — Weber State’s MaCauley Flint has seen snow-covered mountains, but she had not witnessed a different type of beauty until this week.
“This is our first time practicing on this field — it’s beautiful!” Flint said. “We are ready to get on it for game time.”
That was Flint’s reaction after traveling 1,670 miles from Ogden, Utah, to Lamson Park for the NCAA regional that starts Friday afternoon.
The Big Sky Conference Tournament’s Most Valuable Player and her teammates are making their first appearance in the NCAA Division I Softball Championship.
For Flint, who is 14-7 with a 2.42 ERA, the challenge waiting on the field is another reason to be enthusiastic.
“We know how good of a hitting team (UL-Lafayette) is,” Flint said. “We have heard their crowd is pretty awesome, as well. So we are excited.”
Flint is from Roy, Utah, and the trip marks the farthest south or east she has ever traveled.
Weber State coach Mary Kay Amicone has experienced Lamson Park before. She was an assistant coach at the University of Utah when the Utes played in the Lafayette Regional in 1994.
“This is an historic stadium,” Amicone said.
While Weber State’s experience makes school history and an provides an opportunity for the Wildcats (38-17) to witness a part of the country outside their region, Amicone said there is also the need for the Wildcats to embrace things that are familiar.
“You have to keep doing what you have been doing, stick to your routine and not make anything bigger than it is,” she said. “They have prepared all season for these moments.”
Flint’s plan to balance excitement with efficiency in the circle is centered on a blueprint she received from Amicone.
“The coaches have stressed it’s the same game,” Flint said. “Don’t put added stress on it. Just play our game.”
The winners club
In addition to each team in the regional having a minimum .300 team batting average, Cajuns’ coach Mike Lotief said the four squads have more common ground.
“Everybody here knows how to win and they have endured the grind of the season,” Lotief said. “It doesn’t matter who is No. 1 or 64 or eight or six. Anybody in the field can win it.”
Amicone said that offense will be an overall strength of the squads.
“There are offensive powers for sure,” she said.
While Weber State is in new territory, the two teams meeting in the regional opener on 5:30 p.m. Friday have more postseason seasoning. Mississippi State (35-19) is making its 12th NCAA tournament appearance in school history. The Baylor Bears (38-15) are making their 10th regional appearance.
Comforts of home
The Cajuns enter the regional with a 27-1 home record. The lone loss was a 9-5 defeat by Troy on March 21.