A big crowd gathered outside the UT Tyler campus Tuesday evening to welcome home their 2016 Division III National Champions. The Patriot softball team celebrated their first-ever national title.
Playing a huge role in the team's success was Huntington native Kelsie Batten.
The senior pitcher won four games in their World Series run, had 30 strikeouts and allowed just one earned run.
Batten wraps up her college career not only as a national champion, but as the Division III Championship's Most Outstanding Player.
“We're so happy for everyone that came out here. We're so happy that we have so much support,” said Batten. “I don't think it's really sunk in yet. When we leave the locker room one last time, maybe that’s when it will sink in and really be true that we are the number one team in the nation right now.”
During the World Series, Batten recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts in one game. Batten also threw in the championship game and was able to clinch the national title with a strikeout. In the final, Batten allowed only four hits in the game. The Huntington native was also named to the NCAA DIII Softball Championship All-Tournament Team.
“I've always said she is at her best when you need her the most, and this weekend we needed her the most,” said UT Tyler head softball coach Mike Reed. “She got stronger and stronger. As the pitches mounted, we worried a little bit but she just got better and better as the tournament went on. That's a credit to her and why she has all the accolades that she does.”
“We all dreamed about this when we were little. We always want to win. That's what we've been talking about, us seniors, for four years,” said Batten. “We all want to win a national championship and that's what we did. I couldn't be more excited to go out like this. Not many seniors get to say their last game was a win. It was a great opportunity and it’s a great university I've been playing for. I couldn't be happier.”
Batten ends her college career with a 118-17 record, with 555 strikeouts and 40 shutouts. She's also one of three finalists nominated for the Division III National Player of the Year.
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