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    Friday, September 29, 2023

    Woods, Michon find new home at Trine (Ind.), but are back in a familiar spot: D-III World Series

    Cassie Woods, the ex-Fitch High star, has made the third in final stop of a her college softball career, helping Trine University of Angola, Indiana reach the NCAA Division III World Series in Marshall, Texas. Woods leads the team in runs scored (43) while ranking second in hits (49), doubles (13) and walks (23) as well as batting .402 with 27 RBI. (Photo courtesy of Trine University athletics)
    Montville’s Alexis Michon, who was the Division III national pitcher of the year in 2022 at Eastern Connecticut, decided to transfer and join her best friend, Cassie Woods of Fitch, at Trine University in Angola, Indiana. Michon has had to adjust to her new role as a closer, but still helped lead Trine to the World Series in Marshall, Texas, where Trine has split its first two games in the double-elimination tournament. (Photo courtesy of Trine University athletics)

    Alexis Michon found herself in a time crunch last fall, needing to make a decision on her next college softball home after entering the transfer portal.

    Looking for advice, Michon reached out to Cassie Woods, her best friend and former Eastern Connecticut State University teammate.

    Woods offered a solution.

    Join her at Trine University, a Division III softball power located in Angola, Ind., where Woods transferred for her final year of college eligibility. Michon was still at Eastern, attending classes during the first semester.

    “I didn’t really have that big of a time gap to decide what school I wanted to go to, so I got on the phone with Cassie and I was trying to figure out what to do,” Michon said on Thursday. “She just gave me the option of Trine, jokingly, but I took it seriously. So I just started talking to the coaches and the pitching coach was very excited. Now I’m here.”

    The move has worked out quite nicely for the two former Eastern Connecticut Conference competitors.

    Woods and Michon are with Trine in Marshall, Texas, this week competing in the NCAA Division III World Series. Woods, an outfielder, is an on-base machine and catalyst as the leadoff hitter and Michon a reliable reliever.

    After Trine dropped its opener on Thursday, it rebounded to beat Linfield on Friday, 3-2 in eight innings, to stay alive in the losers’ bracket. Michon earned the win, pitching five scoreless innings in relief, allowing three hits while striking out three and walking nobody. Woods went 1-for-3 and scored a run.

    “It’s worked out great,” Woods said of joining the Trine program. “We’re super happy to be there. … Trine is the best decision that we ever could have made.”

    Woods and Michon are sharing a hotel room at the national tournament. They also reached this stage last year with Eastern where they both earned All-American honors — Michon on first team and Woods on second team.

    It’s their version of softball heaven, competing for a national title alongside a dear friend. Another former ECSU teammate, Carolyn Biel, also transferred to Trine.

    “It’s been awesome,” Woods said. “At this point, they’re my family. To get to experience my second World Series with both of them, I don’t even know the words. It’s like a dream come true. They’re going to be in my wedding and they’re going to be in my life forever. The memories we’re going to cherish forever.”

    Their friendship has grown over the years. Michon, 21, played at Montville High School and Woods, 23, at Fitch.

    Michon looks up to Woods.

    “She’s still the mom figure in my life and my best friend,” Michon said. “I honestly feel like a different person after coming to Indiana with her. I’ve come out of my shell more and she’s one of the big reasons for that.

    “She’s honestly raised me more here. She always makes jokes that I could be raised a little more. That’s her job here. It was nice to be rooming with her here, too, because she’s the person I go to when I need anything, so being able to have that as my roommate is really big for me here and makes me feel a lot more comfortable.”

    Woods says Michon changed her perception of the world.

    “She is just so sweet and innocent,” Woods said. “I look at her off the field and think everything is going to be okay. On the field, as soon as she gets to the mound with her sunglasses on and her bun in, I’m like everything is going to be okay. She’s going to shut it down if she comes in in a high-pressure, bases loaded, one run game.”

    They both came to Trine for a shot at winning a national championship.

    Trine finished as the runner-up last season, beating Eastern on the way to the championship final. Michon started versus Trine, allowing three hits and two runs and striking out 10 in 5.1 innings in a game that Eastern lost 4-2 in eight innings.

    That meeting led to first Woods and then Michon transferring to Trine.

    “We loved how they were coached and their team dynamic and how competitive and passionate they were,” Woods said. “We were at the same hotel last year. We loved them and we were joking around with them.”

    Both players are key contributors for Trine (41-5).

    Woods is first on the team in runs scored (43) while ranking second in hits (49), doubles (13) and walks (23) as well as batting .402 with 27 RBI. She’s seventh in the nation in on-base percentage.

    Part of a deep pitching staff, Michon, the Division III national pitcher of the year for Eastern last season as a starter, made a successful transition to closer. She leads the team in appearances (26) and saves (five) while going 11-1 with a 1.70 earned run average, striking out 107 and walking 10 in a team-high 90.2 innings.

    “It has worked out,” said Michon, an elementary education major. “I think I’ve done a very good job adjusting to closing rather than starting.”

    Trine is Michon’s third school after stops at Plymouth and Eastern. A junior, she still has two years of eligibility remaining.

    Woods’ softball career is coming to an end. She’s had quite the journey, starting out at Keene State, transferring to Eastern and then Trine. She received a master’s degree in accounting at Eastern. Her mother, Vicki, became a Trine softball superfan, driving to Indiana four times in the last month, making a 26-hour round trip.

    “This is it,” Woods said. “I had my last practice ever (Wednesday). I shed a few tears. … I’m not really thinking about hanging up my cleats. I’m just thinking about each game we play, each team we play and how to get closer to that goal (of winning a national championship).”


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