By Jeremy McDonald
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore.– Silverton-grad and Oregon Institute of Technology senior Maggie Buckholz has certainly been leaving everything out on the field this year. Enjoying every moment she’s getting to play the game that she loves so much as an outfielder for the Owls, who are currently sitting 37-6 and 25-1 in the Cascade Collegiate Conference entering their final six games of the regular season.
All while hitting .447 with seven home runs and 59RBI’s in 43 games that the Klamath Falls-based squad has played this year.
“I am trying to enjoy every minute. It is crazy that my career is coming to a close, so every time I get the chance to play softball I soak it all in with every game, inning, play, and at bat. We are playing very well and I am having one of the best seasons of my career. My Teammates have made it so enjoyable. Each and every one of them are my biggest supporters, and I am the biggest supporter to all of them. The chemistry of this team has allowed me to continue my love for the game. Competing for the National title has allowed us to keep the focus on the season rather than other things that could distract from our overall success.,” said Buckholz.
“This season has been everything to me. Everyday that I get to play softball I put it all out onto the field, and soak up each moment. Being ranked #1 in NAIA for the third week in a row has been so gratifying. The whole team is proud of this accomplishment, and we are motivated to get back to the World Series again for the third straight year. Being a part of one of the best conferences in the country helps us to continue our focus and determination to win that National Title.”
OIT has been an NAIA Playoff fixture the past few years with aspirations in reaching that final series at the end of the season once again this Spring. The squad has reached the NAIA Opening Round in 2017 and 2018 and the NAIA National Tournament in 2019, 2021 and 2022.
It was that 2021 season where the Owls reached the National Championship Series against rival-Southern Oregon University, another perennial NAIA power out of Ashland, with Buckholz playing at Right Field for two games against the Raiders with the National Title on the line. Buckholz felt like in that series, as an underclassmen, that she had to prove herself. Something that she did, going 2-for-4 with two line drives in the final game as the game went to extra’s that June day in 2021 in the Best-of-3 series.
“Being a sophomore, I felt the need to fight for every opportunity that was given to me. In the final game, I was 2 for 4 with two line drives. In the bottom of the seventh inning, I was on 3 rd base and walked in to score to tie up the game. This made me feel as if we could just grab the trophy (as we had bases loaded),” Buckholz starts. “In the end, it did not turn out as we hoped, but allowed us to put in the work for it more and more each year. This program at Oregon Tech has not only allowed me to excel in softball but in school as well. Coach Greg Stewart has been a very welcoming and compassionate coach. This program has improved so many aspects of my life, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Striving to succeed as one, on-and-off the field, has been the calling card for OIT under longtime Head Coach Greg Stewart, who’s in his 19th year as Head Coach of the Owls’ Softball program. The program yielded 11 Academic All-CCC honors this year for their success in the classroom and Buckholz had even won Conference Player of the Week honors twice in back-to-back weeks back in March and currently leads the country in RBI’s with the playoffs approaching for the number-one team in the country while being a captain for the OIT Softball program this year.
“It is an amazing honor. The amount of dedication that not only me, but my teammates and coaches put in is a representation of the award. We are all striving to succeed, and to be recognized for that twice is a truly special and humbling experience,” Buckholz said of the back-to-back CCC Player of the Week honors.
And though the twilight of her playing career is slowly approaching, Buckholz has been humble and really appreciative of the opportunities given to her coming from a small town like Silverton and to continue to be playing college ball in another small town like Klamath Falls.
“I enjoy being a captain and a leader for this program, especially coming from a smaller town. I want the kids of Silverton and Klamath Falls to know that there is always a chance to play at a high level, and achieve your goals as long as you are willing to put the time and energy in. It is a long journey not only physically but mentally. However, you will gain the most precious moments and lifelong friendships along the way that will forever be worth it,” Buckholz starts.
“On Wednesday morning, our Owls team and I went to our local elementary school and got to high five kids as they were celebrated for showing up to school on time. These kids look up to us, and it was an enriching feeling to celebrate success within our community. To be able to give back to our community that has supported me and my teammates over the years is special and important to me. I want to say thank you to everyone who has helped, taught, and supported me over the years. It has been the greatest gift, and it will forever be special to me.”