CATONSVILLE, Md. — The UMBC softball team is back-to-back champs with quite the break in between.
"Someone said seven hundred something days since the last NCAA Tournament. So, it has felt like forever," said Head Coach Chris Kuhlmeyer.
The Retrievers captured their second straight America East Conference championship on Saturday. They swept Stony Brook and clinched an automatic NCAA Tournament bid. After winning in 2019, and a 2020 with no postseason because of COVID, UMBC was able to finally lift the conference championship trophy once again.
"To be able to defend our championship, even though it’s been two years apart, has been something very special," said Kuhlmeyer.
Leading the way was Courtney Coppersmith. The junior pitcher is fourth in the nation with a .65 ERA.
"It feels amazing. At the end of the day you want to win but you want to have fun and I think that’s one thing that we do well," she said. "When we have fun we typically win more."
This upcoming NCAA tourney is super special for senior shortstop Maddie Daigneau. She chose to return for this year, taking advantage of the NCAA’s COVID exemption.
"It’s great to be able to play such great players and to be challenged a little more than what we’re used to. So, I’m excited," she said.
Daigneau couldn’t have asked for a better road trip to take this weekend. UMBC is in the Tucson bracket of the double elimination NCAA tourney along with Villanova, Ole Miss and host No. 11 Arizona. Daigneau grew up around Phoenix. It’s the first time she’ll be able to play in front of her family and friends in five years.
"I’m so glad that I was able to have the opportunity to come back and especially to even go back home for one of our last tournaments ever. So, it’s fantastic."
First pitch comes Friday against ‘Zona at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.