In four years, IPFW softball coach Amy Tudor has turned the Mastodons from a Summit League bottom feeder into a conference contender.
Tudors program capped off the turnaround with a Summit League championship Saturday to earn an automatic berth the NCAA tournament.
The Mastodons will play against Louisville on Friday in the Louisville regional, which features UCLA and Alabama-Birmingham as potential second-game foes. This, after a 14-24 record in 2009, just before Tudors arrival.
She is now the winningest coach in program history after just four years at the helm.
To finally achieve it is wonderful, she said. Its huge for our program. It helps us get to the next level. Its been the goal of the program since I arrived four years ago, and finally, it got there.
IPFW went from that sub-.500 record in 2009 to 29-19 in 2010. The Mastodons went 28-15-1 in 2011 and 45-14 in 2012, when they lost in the Summit League championship to North Dakota State.
This season, IPFW (33-14) avenged that loss with a 7-4 victory over the Bison that put the Mastodons in the NCAA field.
Throughout the Summit League tournament, Tudor said her team showed a higher level of focus. She hopes that will carry over into NCAA regional play.
Every year, we talk about what we want to do and how we want to do it, she said. This year, fortunately for us, we had 15 kids that were in it during the tournament. I think that was the difference.
The NCAA softball tournament has 16 double-elimination regional pools.
The winning team from each regional advances to a super-regional, where it will face another regional winner in a best-of-three series for a bid to the Womens College World Series.