NORMAN — Danielle Koltz has never even been to Oklahoma. Now, she’s getting ready to take on the country’s top softball team on its home field in Norman.
Koltz, one of the senior leaders on Marist’s MAAC-winning squad, will lead her team against the No. 1 overall seed Sooners at 7:30 p.m. today at Marita Hynes Field. And she’s not letting one minute of the experience slip away.
“It’s a pretty cool experience, and it’s a lot bigger than our school,” she said of OU’s campus. “It’s unbelievable.”
She’s not just referring to the campus. For Koltz, the Red Foxes’ trip to just their second-ever NCAA tournament, and first since 2006, is fulfilling a dream she’s nurtured since she first arrived at Marist’s campus four years ago.
“Our freshman year, I think we only won like 10 games,” she said. “It was pretty bad. It’s unreal how far we’ve come since then, and this is a big step for us.”
Much of that credit goes to coach Joe Ausanio, who in his five years at the helm has led the program to a conference championship and a tournament berth.
And he’s not afraid of the competition. The Red Foxes haven’t played anyone of Oklahoma’s caliber this season, but a year ago, with many of the same players, Marist came close to upsetting the country’s No. 1 team in California, outhitting the Bears 6-4 but ultimately falling 1-0.
“We know what we’re up against,” he said. “It’s not like we haven’t seen these teams before. We’re happy to be here but we want to put in a good showing. Last year we gave Cal all they could handle for one day, and we’re hoping that (today) can be our day this year.”