Comeback Team of the Year

It's safe to say that no American softball team faced more adversity this past season than the team at Cal State Northridge.

The campus was in disarray after the January earthquake, having sustained perhaps more damage from a natural disaster than any other university in U.S. history. That meant the already difficult work of mixing athletic road trips and studying became considerably more difficult. One example was that students had to ride shuttles to libraries at UCLA because the CSUN facility was too damaged to be used.

There was emotional trauma, too. Pitcher Amy Windmiller and teammate Shannon Jones, who lived at the Northridge Meadows apartment complex, barely escaped with their lives when the building collapsed, killing 16 occupants.

So, given all this, there's no way this team is going to match the previous year's dream season, in which it was nationally ranked and earned a spot in the college World Series, right?

Wrong. These women are tough, not to mention intimidating, aggressive and gritty, as sports writers have said all season long. One of their top players, Tamara Ivie, wears a tattoo of the TV cartoon character Bam Bam. And Windmiller and Jones are having the season of their lives. Jones had never hit better than .232 before this year; this season, she's hitting .395. Windmiller has 24 wins against just two losses and an earned-run average that you would need a microscope to find.

On Thursday, the Matadors will again find themselves competing in the college World Series. They are ranked third in the nation, with a record of 49 wins and eight losses. They are giving their quake-ravaged campus something to cheer about, and the rest of us a lesson in how strongly folks can recover from harrowing times.

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