The Oregon softball team won a Division 4 state championship in the Special Olympics State Games on Saturday, Aug. 3, at Carroll College in Waukesha.
Last year, Oregon took second in the state in Division 5.
The team started practicing in April ahead of this season, prepared to step up to face tougher competition in Division 4.
“They are an inspiration,” Oregon coach Don Dillman said. “That created a whole new attitude and even more motivation to bring home a state title to Oregon.”
The team also moved to a different practice location to get a feel for a different playing field.
“The idea was created to practice on a different type of field a couple of times because we had no idea at this level what the field conditions were going to be like” Dillman said.
In the first game at state, Oregon played a team from Kenosha and rolled to a 14-6 win. In the second game, Oregon played a team from the Great Lakes Division and cruised to a 9-0, rain-shortened victory.
“I’m glad we won,” left fielder Laurie Robbins said. “I think it was a big surprise. All of the hard work paid off this year.”
David Thompson, who was a pitcher, first baseman and left fielder, was excited to win the title after finishing second last year.
“It means a lot,” Thompson said. “It’s the best feeling in the world to do it with your best friends.”
Oregon slugged six home runs in its two games at the state tournament. Isaah Foges crushed four homers to lead the team.
“Our bats spoke loud and clear for what this team is capable of doing,” Dillman said.
Oregon entered the state tournament with a 3-1 record.
The team earned its trip to state after playing in the West Madison Battle of the Bats on June 22, when it beat the Platteville Cardinals and the La Crosse Sluggers.
Oregon then made the trip to La Crosse for the District tournament on July 13. Oregon split two games in the tournament, knocking off the Barron County Bullheads and losing to Cuba City.
Thompson said the team hit a rough spot in the loss to Cuba City, but he noticed a different mindset for the state tournament.
“I think it showed how much we really wanted to win it,” he said. “I think it gave everyone some more power.”
Dillman credited the players and coaches for their dedication.
“The team just kept practicing hard and listening to the coaches” he said. “I am very proud of this team for not just bringing home the state title, but also for how they motivated themselves to get better and better.”