By Ben • Ben Schorzman • 

A championship celebration for conquering 'Cats

Fans packed the stands at the No. 1-ranked Wildcats’ home field to listen to members of the team and college speak, as well as hear a proclamation by McMinnville Mayor Rick Olson. Friday, May 31, 2013 was officially named “Wildcat National Baseball Champions Day” by Olson, and he spoke about the longstanding connection between Linfield Connection and McMinnville.

“It’s only fair and fitting that we look at Linfield as a partner with the City of McMinnville,” said Olson, who was wearing a purple polo and a black Linfield hat. “McMinnville and Linfield are inseparable.”

Linfield coach and alumni Scott Brosius acknowledged that connection.

“Many that are here today have been here all year long,” Brosius said. “This is huge. We recognize that this is so much more than just us.”

Those that sat in the bleachers Friday came to once more show their support for the Wildcats, who won their first NCAA Division III national championship in baseball May 25 after beating Southern Maine 4-1 in Appleton, Wis. They smiled and clapped for each player as he was introduced by Brosius, and Linfield Athletic Director — and pitching coach — Scott Carnahan drew laughs with a few insider stories from the dugout.

“This team was special for many reasons,” Carnahan said. “To a man, they were unselfish and in every aspect placed the team ahead of their own personal desires.

“It was truly an amazing effort, and one this team will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Linfield College President Dr. Thomas Hellie also spoke saying it was remarkable to see the support from friends, alumni and family in Appleton. Hellie said he ran into two alumni — Kip Patterson and Greg Walsh — who played for the Wildcats the last time they won a national championship in baseball. That was in 1971 when Linfield was a part of the NAIA.

“They were there for every game,” Hellie said. “Sitting, cheering, commenting, explaining how they would have done it differently. … I was really very impressed to see that level of alumni engagement.”

Brosius told the crowd that he required his team in 2007 and again in 2011 to attend the softball team’s national championship celebrations because he wanted them to see the idea of winning a national title is a tangible reality.

“It’s not just something you dream about or something you think about,” Brosius said. “It needs to be a tangible reality that you have a clear picture in your head that it’s something you can achieve and that you can go out there and do it.”

Linfield won more games this year (42) than any other team in school history and never lost back-to-back games because it believed winning a national title was possible. The Wildcats achieved their first No. 1 ranking at the NCAA level, but in the middle of it all, players and coaches kept perspective and were also able to raise money for St. Baldrick’s by shaving their heads.

“I’m very proud to say that I was a coach of this team,” Brosius said, “and that goes way beyond that we won a national championship. It’s how we did it.”

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