Still plenty to celebrate

Courtesy of University of Washington

Bay Area native Victoria Hayward is excited Washington is playing at Stanford when she celebrates her birthday.

Oh what a whirlwind this season has been!

Since our conference schedule began in mid-March, our team has experienced great highs accompanied by a few lowly lows. So far we have played eight Pac-12 games, opening play with back-to-back home series against Utah and UCLA, followed by a trip down to Eugene and most recently our "bye" weekend. Rain has plagued the early weeks of our season, shortening our three-game series against Utah to two games, which we split.

The next two weeks were an absolute grind. It's not every season you have the opportunity to face the top two teams in the country -- let alone challenge them in a three-game series -- in back-to-back weekends. UCLA and Oregon not only have potent offenses but highlight two of the most dominant pitching staffs in the country, with earned run averages hovering around 1. It was clear who the pundits and analysts thought would win. But after three and a half years as a Washington Husky, I can promise you that the "underdog" spot we often find ourselves in does nothing but light a fire within each and every one of us lucky enough to wear the purple and gold.

After going a combined 1-5, losing two very close games, we stand at 2-6 in conference play. Most people would wince at that record and even write off the Huskies as a top-10 team. Luckily for us, we have yet to reach our potential.

As we emerge from what we've called our little "all-star break" (like in Major League Baseball), we've been able to rest up, heal a few of our bumps and bruises, and mentally prepare for what is to come in the second half of Pac-12 play. I can tell you that it will not be easy, but if I've learned anything, it's that the struggles make it all worth it come June.

Our journey continues as we head down to beautiful Palo Alto, Calif., for our series against Stanford. As a Bay Area native, with my hometown of Mountain View just a few miles down the road, our trips to Northern California are my absolute favorite. One of the things I cherish most about playing for Coach [Heather] Tarr is her emphasis on the importance of family. This will be the third trip down to Stanford and the third time my family has had the opportunity to host the team for a meal. With our slew of night games this weekend, my teammates and I will get to enjoy a Saturday brunch at my house at the end of my little cul-de-sac.

And the best part of it all? It's my 22nd birthday this Friday. What more could I ask for -- softball games with coverage on ESPN2/ESPNU, playing in front of my hometown crowd, and celebrating "feelin' 22" with my family and 17 sisters.

Is it game day yet?

Go Dawgs!