MCC Lady Eagles return to national softball tourney
By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
May 15, 2001
The Meridian Community College Lady Eagles softball team has worked all year long to get to this point.
And finally they are here.
The Lady Eagles embark to the 2001 National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Fastpitch National Championship Tournament in Kissimmee, Fla. after a successful 39-11 season that saw plenty of ups and downs and a string of 15 straight wins. They also swept Region 22 champion Central Alabama (46-14), who had beaten them three times earlier in the season.
But the luster of the tournament and the site itself have been knocked off, as the majority of the 12 players aren't new to this situation.
Seven players on Coach Robert Eakins' roster have either been to or had significant playing time at the Osceola County Softball Complex.
Last year's Lady Eagle squad went 40-15 and made it to Kissimmee, only to drop their first two games and head straight back home after only one day of action.
But a quick stroll around Monday's pre-departure practice at Northeast Park and one would quickly get the gist that this bunch isn't going to Walt Disney country to play around, but to make some noise.
Her sentiments were echoed by plenty other sophomore Lady Eagles who no doubt still feel the pain of the abrupt two-and-out experience of last year.
Perhaps the main key to getting past their first opponent is the ability to hit the ball well, something that eluded the Lady Eagles last year.
With Adcox on the hill, holding Thursday's 2 p.m. opponent Q St. Louis CC-Meramec Q down on the scoreboard shouldn't be a problem. But on the flip side, the Lady Eagles must have the sticks working to have a shot at staying in the winner's bracket.
Meramec (50-10) is ranked No.7 in the country according to the May 7 poll, while MCC comes in at No. 19.
But one of the team's offensive leaders in sophomore Faith Robinson insisted polls and rankings are meaningless.
The team departed early Tuesday morning and will have a practice Wednesday night before Thursday's 2 p.m. game.
Eakins said although his numbers this year are small, it may be a good situation because all 12 players get their share of time at the plate.
The team numbered 13 before they lost former Newton County standout Jackie Avant earlier in the season to an injured hand that required surgery.
Avant will not make the trip to Florida with the team.
An MCC victory would send the Lady Eagles into a winner's bracket game with the winner of the contest between No. 6 Seminole (Okla.) State College, 63-9, and 17th-ranked Midland (Texas) College, 44-12, at 6 p.m. Thursday.
An MCC loss would pit the Lady Eagles with the Midland-Seminole loser in a 6 p.m. elimination game Thursday.
Also competing at Kissimmee are No. 1 Arizona Western, 61-5; No. 2 Chattanooga (Tenn.) State, 58-1; No. 3 Gulf Coast (Fla.), 52-9; No. 4 Utah Valley State College, 40-15; No. 5 Lake City (Fla.), 57-4; No. 9 Johnson County (Kansas), 47-8; No. 10 Indian Hills (Iowa), 65-10; No. 11 Cowley County (Kansas), 42-4; No. 13 Wabash Valley (Ill.) College, 46-7; No. 15 Briarcliffe (N.Y.) College, 40-15; No. 16 Navarro (Texas) College, 37-19; and No. 20 Abraham Baldwin (Ga.), 31-19.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3234, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.