116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Ayana Lindsey was working on little sleep, with little voice.
“I’m kind of the hype (person) in the dugout, and my voice is definitely shot,” she said Monday afternoon. “I do lots of yelling, so I always bring the cough drops along.”
A freshman infielder from Iowa City High, Lindsey played a supporting role as the Northwestern Wildcats advanced to the Women’s College World Series, the eight-team championship climax of the NCAA Division-I softball tournament.
“It doesn’t feel real. It feels like a dream,” Lindsey said in a telephone interview with The Gazette from Oklahoma City.
“I’m pretty tired. We got back to the hotel (in Tempe, Ariz.) around (2 a.m. CT Monday), a lot of people stayed up all night, then we took a flight straight from Arizona to Oklahoma City.”
The No. 9 overall seed in the tournament, Northwestern (45-11) won three straight games to advance from the Evanston Regional, then prevailed in a best-of-3 super-regional at Arizona State. The Wildcats claimed Game 3, 8-6, Sunday night.
Lindsey pinch-ran — and scored — in the final two games in Tempe.
Her signature moment of the postseason came in the second game of the regional, with Northwestern comfortably ahead of McNeese.
“I came in to pinch-hit. Coach (Kate Drohan) told me to take the first pitch, and I did,” she said. “The first one looked good, so I was ready for the next one.”
The result was Lindsey’s second home run of the season: “A very awesome feeling,” she said.
Lindsey has played in 49 games, starting five. She is 6-of-18 at the plate with the two homers and nine RBIs. Mostly in a pinch-running role, she has scored 26 runs, with 13 stolen bases in 17 attempts.
Her role, in her rookie season, is “to bring a lot of energy,” she said.
And the cough drops. Her vocal cords takes a beating.
“I’m one of those people ... I’m in the dugout to cheer you on,” Lindsey said. “It’s been fun to learn everything. I didn’t have as much experience as a lot of these girls.”
At City High, Lindsey — along with classmates Ella Cook and Carey Koenig — lifted a program with limited prior success to a high level. The Little Hawks reached three state tournaments during her five varsity seasons.
Northwestern got a tough opening draw in the double-elimination tournament; the Wildcats face No. 1 Oklahoma (54-2) at 1:30 p.m. at OGE Energy Field in Oklahoma City.
“I think we’re all excited to have a shot at them. I think we’re ready for anything,” Lindsey said.