MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Plymouth native and Benilde-St. Margaret's graduate Maddie Houlihan will never forget what softball has brought to her life.
The recent University of Minnesota graduate finished her Gophers career with her first trip to Oklahoma City for the Women's College World Series. Minnesota finished second at the Big Ten Tournament, hosted a regional and then followed it with by hosting LSU in the first Super Regional in program history.
Minnesota had an early elimination from the College World Series with a 7-2 loss to UCLA and a 5-3 loss to Washington. But the Gophers finished the season 46-14, and took some history home with them from Oklahoma City.
In a video posted Monday morning by NCAA Softball on Twitter, Houlihan thanked the game she loves. She read a heartfelt message, written on her iPhone.
"Dear softball, a simple thank you doesn't seem to do justice for what you've done for me. It's hard to put into words how much of an impact you've had on my life. Thank you for being so much more than just a sport. You've taught me how to compete like crazy and work as hard as I possibly can while enjoying the heck out of it all, the good and the bad," Houlihan said.
Houlihan said in the video softball has taught her that failing is OK, dealing with it and moving forward. She's also met coaches and teammates who she'll now know the rest of her life.
She thanked softball for bringing her to the University of Minnesota.
"Playing softball here has been the greatest experience of my life, and I would not be here without you," Houlihan said.
She said softball has given her a platform that allows and inspires young girls to chase their dreams.
In her senior season, Houlihan hit .297 in 60 games with 54 hits in 182 at bats. She had 13 doubles, two triples and seven home runs. Houlihan drove in 37 runs and scored 42.
"This girl from the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is able to live out her childhood dream and it's because of you," Houlihan said.
For her career, Houlihan hit .346 in 235 games with 51 doubles, six triples, 28 homers and 170 RBI. Most importantly for Houlihan, the Gophers finished as one of the eight teams left in college softball at the College World Series.
She was named the Big Ten Tournament's Most Outstanding Player in 2018. She took the time to thank the sport that brought her to the Gophers, and brought the Gophers to the biggest stage in college softball.
"Thank you for everything, softball. You've done more for me than I would've ever thought possible," Houlihan said.