Follow the NCAA journey

Coach Smith brings the team together for final instructions. © 2012 David Sinclair/McDaniel College

As we go through the NCAA Division III softball regional experience, McDaniel SID Luke Stillson will post updates to give fans an inside look at the team's experience.

Tuesday, May 8

9:15 p.m.: The last two days have been a whirlwind but I believe everything is finally ready for an early Wednesday departure. The thing about a sport like softball is the very short turnaround from the time you find out where you're travelling to the time you leave - in this case, departure is fewer than 45 hours after we learned our destination. Between all of the administrative work that needs to be done by Coach Smith, Director of Athletics Paul Moyer and myself and preparing my own needs for the week, there hasn't been much time to relax. However, the computer bag is finally packed with computer, paper, notes and stats. The sunflower seeds are stocked. The printer and cameras are packed. The only thing left is to go home and pack up the suitcase before having to be back on campus at 7 a.m. to be ready when the bus pulls out at 7:15.

I'll give more insights to the prep work that's been involved for the week as stories come up during the week. Check back tomorrow and all week, we'll have plenty of stories and insiders views.

Wednesday, May 9

3:00 p.m.: We have finally arrived and figured out what is going on. Our Rohrbaugh's bus pulled out, right on time, at 7:15 a.m. with everyone's favorite driver, Bob. As we pulled out, a quick decision was made to take 15 and 17 to get to 95 instead of trying to fight rush hour traffic around D.C. Whether or not it ended up quicker, no one knows...but we kept moving, which is always a plus.

Other than a quick rest stop for Bob, the first stop on the trip was a Subway for some quick lunch around 12 and then back on the road. The first two hours of the trip were quiet with most everyone on the bus back to sleep after the early wake-up call. After our quick stop on 95, the first movie of the trip went in - Hitch.

We made our safe arrival at Captains Softball Field right about 1:20 - the time of our original practice slot - but the time after us opened, so we were able to push our slot back an hour. Coaches Smith and Trainor took all of the bats to our NCAA site rep, Charlie Dobbins, for pre-tournament testing. As we were approaching campus, the forecast for afternoon showers came true. After some debate whether or not to take outdoor practice in a light rain or move inside before being able to get on the game field at 3:25, we elected to get outside and get going.

Just as we were crossing the road from the bus to the field, Charlie stopped everyone and sent us back to the bus because a lightning strike was detected in the area. Quick change of plans since we were about to lose at least 30 minutes of practice time. We elected to move into the Freeman Center to hit in the cage inside and hope maybe the lightning would be out of the area and we could get back outside and get on the field for at least a little bit of time this afternoon.

Just as practice was starting, my phone rang and it was our Director of Athletics Paul Moyer calling to say he had just arrived at the hotel and would take care of checking us in and getting all of the room keys. As I sit in the familar confines of the Freeman Center - a place I am all too familar with from a pair of basketball trips here in the last couple of years - the hitting stations are taking place; the pitchers are throwing; and the clock is ticking on our 60 minutes of practice.

The plan from here is to get to the hotel and send the team on its way to dinner with the bus while Coach Smith, Paul and I return in Paul's car for our 7:00 coaches and administrators meeting.

I'll get another update posted tonight when I sit in the hotel room to do all of the rest of my work - an all-conference baseball release and a pre-write on the all-conference lacrosse team, which will be released tomorrow.

10:15 p.m.: Today has been very much of a whirlwind day for everyone so I apologize for the lack of updates but it is really the only two opportunties I have had to be near my computer. Today is the perfect example of why the NCAA went to allowing for a travel day before the tournament began. We are 15 hours since we departed Westminster early this morning and I have been pretty much on the go the entire time (which is really nothing new in the life of an SID).

Since the last update, we found our way to the hotel - some 45-50 minutes from campus. We arrived at the hotel around 5 p.m., where Paul met us in the lobby with all of the room keys. The first thing I noticed was that the team is spread throughout the hotel. There are some of us on the second floor and others on the fifth...and up and down the hallway. This struck me as odd, given my experiences with a team check-in, where a hotel tends to try to place teams on, at least, the same floor. But, there's always circumstances that no one can control.

We weren't here 45 minutes and Coach Smith, Paul and I hopped into the car and headed 45 minutes back to campus for the all-important pre-tournament meeting. Using the GPS in Paul's car, we were able to find an easier way back to campus. It may even be a few minutes quicker...as long as we don't miss any exits or turns.

The meeting was very straightforward and as quick as any I've sat in. We were out in 40 minutes after going over the three-page agenda. Basically just a lot of administratives items to be covered, including how warmups will be conducted, etc. Of specific interest to me is the fact there will be a postgame press conference for every game (after the 10-minute cooling off period) that will be streamed. The big discussion point for the meeting was uniform colors for tomorrow. The home team has choice for all games and the visiting team is required to wear a contrasting color. For Thursday's action, the higher seed is the home team. Emory threw us a little bit of a curveball, choosing to wear navy blue tomorrow, meaning we will be in white.

While we were gone, the team and rest of the coaches headed to Applebee's for dinner.

After the meeting finished, we headed back to the hotel - in a steady, driving rain. Once back, Paul and I elected to just eat dinner at the hotel. Coach Smith called a team meeting at 9:30 to go over all of the details for tomorrow. After dinner, I made my way to the meeting room to hand out the credentials that everyone needs to get around anywhere at an NCAA event.

Departure is set for 6:45 in the morning, giving us time to grab some breakfast on the way over and enough time to arrive at the field at 8:15 for our 10:00 game one.

Updates should be a bit more frequent so be sure to check back often.

Thursday, May 10

9:30 a.m.: It's clearly game day at the field. We departed the hotel at 6:45 this morning to head across the street and grab breakfast to go at McDonald's. By 7:15, we were all back on the bus and heading the field. We arrived on-site just before 8 a.m.

I headed directly across the street to my perch behind home plate where the media and game ops is stationed. Rob and Kyle were already here from CNU's staff - two great people in the business and guys I have spent quite a bit of time with over the trips here recently.

We are now 24 minutes from game time and Emory has just taken the field for its eight-minute warmup. McDaniel is on the field next and then it's game time.

Updates as time permits.

2:30 p.m: We have been back at the hotel now for almost an hour. I spent my morning during the game providing Twitter updates and writing the game recap as we went through the game. Immediately following, I headed down the line with the team to the area behind the right-field fence, where the team is held during its NCAA-mandated 10-minute cooling off period. Once Coach Smith finished addressing the team and Emory finished in the interview tent, I escorted Coach Smith and Caroline to the tent for their opportunity at the post-game press conference. (To view (McDaniel starts at 1:39): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAkfgi7FK0Y)

While the team was changing, I headed back behind home plate, where Dave Sinclair was downloading 1,090 pictures from the game to my laptop. Dave was able to come down and capture the team's first NCAA game since his sister, Heather, played for the Green Terror. He actually got in town about 12:30 this morning - a little later than he was hoping - and spent the night in my room since we were playing the first game today.

By the time the pictures had downloaded to my computer, I had a statistics file on my flash drive and stats loaded to our website. The story was already written, so I packed up my computer bag and said the "see you tomorrow's" to everyone under the tent and headed to the bus. We loaded up by about 12:25 and were on the way back to the hotel, stopping at the Firehouse Subs near the hotel for lunch.

The biggest intrigue at lunch was the fancy Coke machine that gave you 120+ options. It was quite overwhelming for some to be able to make a decision. Many samples were taken before committing.

On the way back to the hotel, everyone was monitoring the Messiah-Roanoke game to see who we would have to play tomorrow. Once it was clear Roanoke was going to win the game, the attention was turned to watching the replay of our game. Everyone was very impressed by the production quality, so a huge shoutout to the CNU staff for that. We are being provided a DVD copy of each game as well by CNU, which is also a nice touch.

Once we got back to the hotel, everyone went their own way. Many of the players were off for last-minute studying since once Paul Moyer returns with the Coaches Smith, about nine of the players have a final to take. Paul will be proctoring those exams and, per instructions from each individual professor, return them to the College.

As for me, I finally got a softball recap posted. Had to take care of some other duties of the job and return a couple of emails. And, now I have to finally actually write a couple of all-conference releases and get those posted before we head out to dinner this evening.

5:15 p.m.: I figured as long as I was actually in the room, I'd sneak in another update. The afternoon has been very low key for most. While the exams were taking place, I was locked down in the room taking care of all of the other business to which I needed to attend, including getting out the all-conference releases. I also answered a handful of emails and think I'm pretty much locked down one issue that's been outstanding for the last week or so. I also got in touch with the conference office to get an update on what I missed at our meeting this morning - sounded like this was a more productive use of my time (and I was pretty much told such when the first line was "you didn't miss much").

I was able to spend some time on the back deck of the hotel with a few of the players and a couple parents but then work called me back to the "office" (the disadvantage of an iPhone - I know when someone needs something).

Word has it dinner is coming at 6:30 at a place called Kelly's. Full report coming later, I would imagine.

10:00 p.m.: We returned from our dinner at Kelly's shortly after 8:30 after a good meal and great time. The parents who are down here joined us at the same restaurant. They had their own section while the players (and most of the coaches) had the back room to themselves. We did just run out of seats back there, so Coach Smith, Paul and I had our own section where we enjoyed our own time of great conversation and story-telling.

After our short walk back to the hotel, Paul gathered the team in the lobby to fill out their season evaluations so he would not have to call a separate meeting back on campus. As the players finished, most lingered in the lobby to watch the Alabama-Mississippi State game. Tracy Davis had one last final she had to take and chose to get it out of the way tonight instead of waiting until tomorrow afternoon. Two of the highlight moments of the evening were Caroline Brehm insisting on watching her postgame interview and the strikeout call demostrations that started. Both very light-hearted moments at the end of another very long day.

As the evening continued, individuals slowly returned to their rooms to get some sleep since we have our same 6:45 departure in the morning to take on Messiah - as the home team...in green.

Friday, May 11

8:30 a.m.: The team has arrived at the field this moring and is already in the "home team" warmup area beyond the outfield. It's a clear morning at the field with - once again - a breeze blowing in.

The morning stop at McDonald's took just a hair longer today than it did yesterday but it was all good. We still arrived at campus before 8:15.

Everyone at CNU was very excited about the slate of games yesterday and everyone thinks we'll have another great slate today, starting with the pair of elimination games. The goal is to still be playing on Saturday. We're just shy of one hour until McDaniel will be on the field for the first eight minutes of warmups as the home team today. As Coach Smith told everyone as the bus pulled on campus - from this point on, it's about playing every game as if it's your last.

9:45 a.m.: One of those moments when you know you've been spending too much time at the field (and it's only Friday). As the McDaniel warmup music starts with "Call Me Maybe", I see in my computer screen behind me three of the CNU staffers, including the tournament director, doing their mimic of the Harvard baseball guys. For those who haven't seen the YouTube clip...must see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEWVwgDnuzE.

3:45 p.m.: One thing is becoming more and more clear today - I'm hating the CNU wireless, losing the entire post I just typed does not make me a happy camper so I guess I'll just have to recreate it.

It's been a wild, wild day - that I do know. As the morning game went on, things got even more and more stressful - even in the press box. I'm usually a pretty level guy when doing my job. Internally, my stomach turns and turns, though, in games like this morning.

As play after play was being made this morning, my stress level rose more and more. And, of course, so did the conversations I was managing from texts with our assistant baseball coach Ryan Graves to emails with SID pals following along on live stats to tweets on the @mcdanielsports account to my own tweets and back-and-forths on my personal Twitter account. I know there were at least two or three times that the frustration got the best of me and I threw my visor at my laptop even as hard as I tried to stay professional in the press box. Speaking of which, though, I'm certain when Tracy's ball cleared the fence that I violated the golden rule: "No cheering in the press box." I just couldn't help it though. When things like that happen, though, seasoned SIDs always have an answer at the ready, like "Cheering is always allowed for good plays." or the one I used for this one: "I was just glad the game was over."

Once the game was finally over, though, and the quick updates sent, I headed to our dugout while Messiah was being presented with its participant medallions so I could assist with the postgame procedures. I walked with the team to our cooling off area in the discus cage beyond left field. After a relatively short postgame chat that included Lauren Fusco reminding everyone how great it felt for the seniors to finally beat Messiah after losing to them for four years - and how much sweeter it was that the win came in the NCAA tournament.

We also got the story of Tracy coming into the dugout in the middle of the 10th and saying she was tired of this and "going bombski". Gotta love the called shot. By that point, the 10 minutes had passed, so I walked Coach Smith, Tracy and Caroline to the media tent for their postgame interview delayed ever so slightly by the needs that follow a 2-hour, 27-minute game and Caroline needed to go back for her sunglasses. It was all good, though. Kyle had nowhere to be.

Once that was finished, I headed back to the press box to update stats and grab my computer while the team changed. We all boarded the bus and headed basically across the street to Moe's for lunch (parents joining us, of course) before coming back to the field to watch some more softball before we head out to dinner in Newport News tonight and then back to the hotel.

While back here, I made sure to have all of my research done and in place for a much longer game recap than just: "Caroline pitched 10 innings of shutout ball with 11 Ks and Tracy went first-pitch bombski with two outs in the bottom of the 10th."

I know one thing, it already feels really good to know we don't have a game until 3:00 tomorrow and the alarm will not go off at 6:15 tomorrow morning. The bottomline right now, too - despite how long and crazy today has been - is that we're playing on Saturday with the chance to be playing under the lights on Saturday night and again on Sunday.

I was about to type, three other quick stories for this post but that two quick stories just turned into four.

Story 1. While typing the first entry that is now lost forever. I knew game three for today was about to start (some 1 hour, 32 minutes late no thanks to our morning marathon). I heard introductions but then looked up to see Roanoke just standing around in the field. Then I looked at home plate to find two head coaches and three umpires. Come to find out, someone jumped the gun and did intros before we had the pregame plate meeting so they had to finish that before warmups could commence. Oh well, probably just something that's funny to SIDs who understand the actual pregame protocol.

Story 2. While walking back to the field, I had to explain the #bcw hashtag since everyone had been reading the Twitter updates on the bus. BCW...bathroom can wait. The #cantbreathe hashtag was also enjoyed.

Story 3. While typing this entry, Erinne Warrenfeltz ran over and informed me that I needed to retweet Lauren's last tweet. After flipping over to TweetDeck and seeing said tweet, I quickly made that happen. I encourage all to check it out.

Story 4. We just had a stoppage in action and the first-base umpire walked down the line to the home-plate umpire, who walked to the fence and pointed at our assistant coach Kelli Workmeister. Her cell phone was sitting on the hillside next to her and he made her put it away because apparently the sun was reflecting off it and onto the field. To quote Rob (CNU'S SID): "File that one under 'never seen before'."

4:30 p.m.: Rumor has it some people might not be able to see said picture from "Story 3." For those curious and upset you couldn't. You're in luck.

9:45 p.m.: We have finally returned the hotel some 14 1/2 hours after we left this morning. It was a fantastic afternoon in the sun, watching some softball and just relaxing. We headed back across the street for dinner at Panera around 7:00. As we pulled into the parking lot, Coach Smith got a text from Charlie that we would be the visiting team tomorrow against Ferrum and Ferrum had chosen to wear white. We, thus, will be wearing the greens again.

For those curious, home team in the NCAA tournament is decided by a long list of criteria (we actually use the same procedure in our conference tournament, which is why we were twice the visiting team on our home field last weekend). First, you check to see who has been home team fewest (this made Friday's schedule easy for determining home team since every game ended up 1-0). If the number of home games is equal, it's the team that has been the visitor most.

For those keeping track, the McDaniel-Ferrum matchup is still tied at this point. Tiebreaker #3 is, if the two teams previously met, the visiting team is home. Still doesn't help us here (the way the bracket is set up, this criteria never comes into play until Game 12 of the tournament). We move to the fourth and final tiebreaker on the list - the team that visitor in its previous game is now home. Well, that still doesn't help us. At this point, we go to the always-favorite double coin flip. In the double flip, two members of the game committes (the NCAA site rep and usually the tournament director, as long as the host team is not involved) join the two coaches (we had already left, so hence the text). The first flip is done after one team is assigned heads and one team is assigned tails. The one that wins that flip gets to call the second flip. On the second flip, the winner of Flip No. 1 calls it in the air. Winner of the coin flip is home. Easy enough, right?

So after Panera dinner, we headed back towards the hotel and stopped on the way at Coldstone for ice cream. Honestly, we chose wisely - and not just because it was Coldstone but because had to be the fastest one in America.

And, here we sit. Departure is set for 10:15 tomorrow morning for a good breakfast/brunch at IHOP and then we head to the field, fighting against CNU Commencement. The plan is to be at the field by 1 to get changed and warmup during the Emory-Salisbury elimination game that preceeds us. Tomorrow afternoon could turn into a long one (and hopefully does). The winner of the two elimination games come back to be the first teams in the regional to play two games in the same day, squaring off at 7:30 at the lighted, off-campus facility.

Saturday, May 12

1:00 p.m.: We're back at the ballpark for what will hopefully turn into another long day. The morning started with a trip to IHOP for breakfast. Bob had called ahead to let them know we were coming and then Paul actually made it to the restaurant early and ensured that they actually kept room for us. I received a text from him about five minutes before we left that said the place was starting to fill up. By the time we got there, he had done a good job keeping enough places for the team to eat. Most of the team ended up in one area with another group in the back of the other side and then the coaches and staff in a third section.

It all worked out and we were out of there before 11:45 to head to the field. We pulled onto campus, which is hosting Commencement today, and backed into the lot across the field. Salisbury and Emory were preparing for their game when we got off the bus around 12:25. The team headed to the locker room to get changed, and Coach told them to take their time, relax a little, watch some of the first game and be on the warmup field by 1:30.

The best story from the ride over was Amy Baumgardner getting the pleasure of doing Coach Trainor's hair. Everyone was quite impressed with the end product.

And, as I sit in the press box ready for another day, Salisbury and Emory are about ready for first pitch.

11:30 p.m.: It's been a long time since the last entry today but it's been a long day. After watching Salisbury eliminate top-seeded Emory, we now knew our opponent for later in the night if we could just eliminate Ferrum.

After three innings, that seemed like it was going to happen. We were getting some breaks and had a 1-0 lead. Caroline was dialed in. Then, a walk on a full-count pitch that many, many people thought might could have been a strike with two outs in the sixth. Then a double and it was 1-1 after six innings.

The next, I don't know, two hours were spent watching, hoping, praying for a run. The wave of emotions took its toll on everyone in the ballpark. Just like yesterday's 10-inning affair, the longer the game went - the more conversations I started managing. My phone was blowing up with texts. The Twitter machine was busy. I was so focused on the game in front of me, pulling out my hair, throwing my visor, mumbling things that I nearly forgot we had a lacrosse game going on back in Westminster. That game started an hour after our softball game...and finished almost an hour before we finished. It doesn't seem from the looks of things, that game was nearly as white-knuckling.

I'm not sure how much I was actually able to breathe in the press box but I'm sure that was the case with everyone involved. I even went to the rally visor. I looked down at one point in the 11th or something and even Rob, their SID, had turned his cap backwards just hoping to end the game, knowing he had two more games to get going tonight.

Well, the advantage of being in the press box is being able to hear all of the scuttle. Nothing but praise for the efforts being put forth. And, of course, the 20 strikeouts were the main talking point. I even got a tweet from an SID who had never seen either team play (but come to find out later had come over to help out with the Roanoke-CNU broadcast), who noted that Caroline gave new meaning to "little fireball"...and I think that tweet came when the strikeout count was at 10 or 11.

So, back to the point of the scuttle. I had known that our NCAA rep Charlie and the tournament director Carrie had gone to find both of the coaches of the next game to figure out what to do when we got to the point that it was clear the third game of the day wasn't starting before 6. I had made it a point to ask Charlie before the game what happened if we ran long - was the 7:30 off-site game getting moved back. He assured me that we'd have plenty of time between games.

Shortly after 6:00, Kyle came back to the press box and started writing notes. That's when I knew without even reading over his shoulder that the schedule was getting adjusted. Sure enough, the decision had been made at that point that this game was the last one of the night and the necessary adjustments were being made to move Game 11 to 10 a.m. on Sunday and Game 12 to 12 p.m. with Game 13 to follow at 2 p.m. (unless, of course, we decide another marathon game is in order tomorrow too). That pushes the championship game to Monday to avoid the winner of Game 13 playing three games in one day.

The research started flying around the press box too. Longest regional game is 15 innings. Longest tournament game overall is 16. Tournament game strikeout record is 21. No lie, when Rob mentioned the regional record for longest game is 15, we finished the 13th and more than one person said, "Well, let's just go for the record at this point." Luckily, that didn't happen. I'm not sure I had any circulation left in my hands from white-knuckling for so long.

The best moment was after the game, getting a text from Paul, who once again watched from his perch high atop the stadium. He was supposed to go order the Panera for between games but couldn't leave. It all worked out, though...a much better dinner was in order. Any way, the text: "Getting out of that lax meeting!!!!" He is the liaison to the men's lacrosse committee for the Centennial Conference and their annual meeting is Monday. Having to stay until at least tomorrow means he's probably not making it back to Lancaster, Pa., by Monday morning. It is, however, probably going to mean proctoring a couple of more finals from those who were planning to take them when they returned to campus on Monday since we now definitely won't leave here until Monday.

After the postgame cool-off and the media requirements, we decided on Chili's for dinner and then arrived back at the hotel around 10:30. I had not only the softball recap still to write but also still had to take care of the lacrosse story. It's all good, though, I'm used to working until after 11:00 on a Saturday night.

And, now we make it to Sunday. An 8:15 departure is scheduled so we can grab some Panera breakfast and be at the field around 10:00 to get changed and warmed up. Another double coin flip was needed to determine the home team, which we actually won. We'll be home and back in the whites for what will hopefully be two actual games tomorrow and not just two games-in-one.

The one thing I know for sure. I need some sleep.

Sunday, May 13

11:30 a.m.: Here we sit, back at the ballpark. There are 27 Division III softball teams remaining alive. By the end of the day tomorrow, eight will punch a ticket to Salem.

After an 8:15 departure this morning, we made our trek from the hotel to Newport News and stopped across the street from CNU sat Panera for breakfast and made it to the the field right around 10:00.

The team was dropped off at the locker room to get changed while Bob brought the rest of us around to the lot across from the field to get the practice area set up and ready for the team about 10:30.

I'm back in my station for the week, watching CNU and Roanoke battle through a 1-1 game in the sixth inning and can't help but think that extra innings are coming in this game. For once, though, we won't be involved if that happens.

There are not really any fantastic stories from the morning, which is really unfortunate.

I'm looking forward to another long day at the ballpark. The last two days have been long and stressful but as long as the end results continues to be the same, I can deal.

2:45 p.m.: It's very possible the only word I can yet muster is wow. The instructions to the offense this morning were to win this game in seven. Guess the team took that just a little too literally.

Another host of emotions all need to be quelled for our first two-game day. The best part was - after having to listen to the annoying Salisbury parents for 6 1/2 innings, the final say went the other way. Halfway through the final inning - I think it was during Lauren's eight-pitch at bat that finally loaded the bases - a couple of older gentlemen I could hear behind me all of sudden say "hell with it, let's go, McDaniel." They became some pretty good cheerleaders for the rest of Lauren's at bat and all of Amy's 10-pitch at bat.

As Amy came to the plate, I looked down the table towards Rob and said, "Well, she has one grannie this year." After that ball hit the tree just inside the foul pole, Rob and I definitely completely violated the "no cheering" rule. We both screamed and high fived.

I received numerous congratulations from the entire staff here and others on the gutty win. Charlie even told me that he had the home run called about halfway through the at bat.

Despite the emotions still being high, the teams are on their respective foul lines ready for Game 13. Christopher Newport is the visitors. McDaniel is home. Roanoke awaits the winner tomorrow for the regional championship.

10:00 p.m.: Wow. That seems to be the word of the week. When we left Westminster on Wednesday, I don't think anyone could have possibly imagined the ride would go like this.

The only thing that, honestly, I could think of as CNU was about to end our season: "Helluva run."

One story that I forgot to share when my mind was not quite functioning properly during the last post. After Roanoke took its final lead on CNU, I headed down to our warmup area to spend some final moments with the team and coaches before we took the field for game one. (Plus, our special visitors had arrived and they needed to be properly greeted.) As CNU was heading our way under to their cooling-off area and we were making our way to the dugout, the CNU players were encouraging our players to "go out there and kick their asses". It seemed a little odd to me until we found out the full story from one of the CNU mothers and how the unhappy rivalry that had already been developed two years in advance of the two becoming conference foes.

So, back to the period between the start of today's second game and now...

Despite the excitement and emotion from the end of game one, there was still a job to be done. I decided the thing that made the most sense as game two was starting was to get the recap from game one done and deal with the second recap later.

Once that was done, I turned my full attention to the game in front of me. The group of us who had been in the press box all week had sort of become one big, happy family so we started to think alike and couldn't help but laugh at the comments being made around us.

The personal favorite from Game 13 was from the same older gentlemen behind us (who at this point had moved in front of us) referred to Caroline as a machine and "hoped she ran out of quarters soon". That was just about his only good line all day, though.

Postgame was quite emotional in left field but before I headed down to join the team, the CNU president, who was in the press box for most of the day, congratulated the entire program on an impressive showing and great run. He was very impressed with what he saw.

After the participant medallions were presented, the team headed to left field. Charlie actually walked out with the team and congratulated them on a great job and told them they had captured the hearts of everyone at this tournament. It was another one of those very nice moments.

After the usual postgame chat and a couple of pictures in center field then the media tent, we headed out for dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. Well, the original plan was Outback but that looked really busy and there was a BWW right across the street.

Then, of course, we needed a return trip to Cold Stone. Once again - Fastest. Cold. Stone. Ever.

Another great moment, though, before Cold Stone. As we were pulling into the parking lot, Beth Ann Fusco came up front and actually presented me with a signed game ball. That was a very nice touch....and completely unexpected.

We got back to the hotel around 8:45. I got the second recap done before doing what I could with the ECAC men's lacrosse release since - for whatever reason - the "interwebs" prevented stats from making their way down I-95. Oh, wait, maybe it was the same issues that led to traffic crawling north on 95 at a speedy 25 mph.

After the phone call I got from head golf coach Scott Moyer, who drove down today with assistant baseball coach Ryan Graves, as we were leaving Cold Stone - it's a good thing we elected to spend the night and depart tomorrow at 7 a.m. Apparently, traffic was just awful since they left, taking them five hours to reach Fredericksburg (normally about two hours or two-and-a-half hours from here). Doesn't sound like a lot of fun to me.

One last thing...the reporter there covering CNU had a very nice blog entry about Amy's walkoff grand slam on Mother's Day. Worth the quick read: http://www.dailypress.com/sports/colleges/on-campus-blog/dp-spt-on-campus-mcdaniel-sophomore-gives-mom-a-gift-to-remember-20120513,0,6866102.post

All that's left now is some packing and a long (albeit hopefully not THAT long) trip home.

Monday, May 14

2:15 p.m.: As promised, one last update to cap the trip...especially given the morning shenanigans. The plan was departure at 7 a.m., get on the bus, everyone goes back to sleep, we stop for breakfast/brunch a few hours down the road. As I said, that was the plan.

Just before 5:30 a.m., the hotel had different plans for us. And, the fire alarm went off. So, (almost) all of us headed outside to the back of the hotel to figure out what was going on. The way some people showed up was very interesting. Some didn't even bother finding shoes. Others, took a little more time to grab phones or computers or sweatshirts.

It was at that point that a couple of people even pointed out that we're all up - we might as well just leave now. Somewhere along the way, we found a compromise. I think mostly because no one was going back to sleep for a half-hour. Instead, I think everyone was downstairs ready to leave about 6:30. We had the bus fully loaded and pulled out by 6:55 to head north...in a light drizzle.

The new plan was to find a Wa-Wa more quickly into the trip. It's amazing how difficult that task became. We ended up at a truck stop that had a Dunkin Donuts express and Wendy's just before we got on 295 around 9:00 or so.

I think everyone...or at least almost everyone...ended up back asleep at some point on the bus - either before the stop or after the stop or both. The traffic on I-95 after we got north of Fredericksburg was once again pretty bad, so Coach Eyler made a quick call and have Bob turn us around and head back one exit to come home basically the same way we went (on 17). Eventually, the crew awoke and we got our second movie of the week - She's the Man. That ended up being perfectly timed since the credits rolled right as we pulled back on campus about 10 of 1.

The entire way back while wrapping up this trip, I was already busy preparing for the next task - ECAC baseball, answering texts and tweets from baseball players wanting to know what was going on. Then, finding out we were the No. 2 seed but some how the release showed us traveling. Placed a quick email to people I know and got things straightened out and we actually should be home - and will be, Wednesday at 3:00.

Coach Smith had some final parting words for the team as we pulled up along Gill. And, with that a pretty amazing trip concluded. The final thought from me: That was pretty fun. Let's do this again next year.

And now, that I've been in the office for almost 90 minutes - the lacrosse game from yesterday is wrapped up and I move on to a stack of releases to write: softball all-tournament, softball all-region, baseball ECAC and then there's a program to do.

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