It's not often that an underdog to win the conference title isn't satisfied after winning the conference tournament. While Benedictine softball coach Kate Heidkamp said it is always a thrill in the NACC Tournament, her team is ready for more.
"The other teams are really talented, but you know what? So are we," Heidkamp said. "It's about time we do some damage, and it's about time we stop being happy we made it in."
By winning the conference tournament the team earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The 2014 season marked the fourth straight year that the Eagles have reached the NCAA regionals. However, they have yet to win a single game in the double-elimination format. Joining Benedictine in its regional is its opening-game opponent Wisconsin-Whitewater, Thomas More (Ky.), and the host school, University of Chicago.
Heidkamp said that while they won't have home-field advantage, she does hope the short trip will help her Eagles. She said the Eagles will return home between games so her players can sleep in their own beds and have the feel of a normal road game. Additionally, Heidkamp said she would like to see her school's fans join them in Chicago.
"I'm hoping we get some fans there. We need that," the coach said. "They won't win the game for us, but having some support there is pretty cool."
Scouting opponents in this stage of the season can be difficult, and Heidkamp said she only has a little to work with on the Eagles' regional opponents. Benedictine and Wisconsin-Whitewater have a pair of mutual opponents, but Heidkamp said because both teams won those games in similar fashion and they all happened in the beginning of the season, there is not much to gain from them.
She also said she knows a handful of their players from recruitment. The other two are much bigger unknowns, Heidkamp said.
Regional play begins Friday in Chicago. Each team is promised a second game on Saturday and potentially continuing to Sunday. If Benedictine is going to break its regional losing streak, it will need all aspects of the game to click.
"It all depends on who comes to play," Heidkamp said. "If your bats go, your pitchers go, your defense goes. We are hoping we have that all figured out right now. It's pretty exciting, though."