Lady Eagles take to field
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT n Ryan Reid practices her pitching before the Meridian Community College softball team went to Kissimme, Fla., for the National Junior College Fast Pitch National Championship. Photo by Carisa McCain /The Meridian Star
By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
May 17, 2001
KISSIMMEE, Fla. The talking is done.
For the Meridian Community College softball team, the time has come to put up or shut up.
Today will tell the tale if a year's experience here and a 39-11 season means anything as the Lady Eagles prepare to face off against Seventh-ranked St. Louis Meramec (Mo.) CC in a first round game at 2 p.m. at the Osceola County Softball Complex.
The Magic, who are no strangers to the National Junior College Athletic Association Fastpitch National Championship Tournament, come into the contest as District L winners, brandishing a 53-10 overall mark.
Their veteran coach, Celeste Knierim, in her 27th season at the school, attributes the Magic's success this year to team unity.
Although they weren't present last year, 2001 marks the 14th appearance at the national tourney for the Magic.
That isn't to say however, that the current edition has the experience on this grand stage.
The 20-man roster boasts only six sophomores, none of which have ever made it this far.
The team's three-person pitching staff is entirely made of freshman.
There may be a little extra incentive for the Lady Eagle squad, as several players reportedly overheard the Magic players predicting an easy victory upon learning of MCC's small roster size (12) at Wednesday's opening ceremonies and mixer at Water Mania Park.
Knierim herself seemed a little subdued after Wednesday's coaches and officials meeting.
Lady Eagle head coach Robert Eakins weighed in on the situation afterward.
Eakins himself admitted he doesn't pay too much attention to that sort of thing.
What he did admit was a tendency not to show emotion in an effort to not upset his squad, which seemingly is right where he wants it on the eve of its biggest day.
To hear Eakins tell it, the 2001 field is much more wide open than last year.
Eakins claimed if a team can win one or possibly both games today, then there's no telling what can happen those last two days.
He has a point, as last year's winner in Utah Valley State lost its first game on Thursday, only to tunnel its way through the loser's bracket and upset Central Arizona for the title.
This year, the Vaqueras are gone, but they are replaced with the top-ranked, if not top-seeded Arizona Western.
The Lady Eagles would meet them if both teams won their first game.
Although they come in at No. 19, the draw is much easier for MCC this year, as tourney officials seed teams based on how they did the previous year.
Consequently, MCC is on the opposite side of the bracket from last year's competitors Indian Hills, Briarcliffe, Abraham Baldwin and UVSU.
But first things first.
Where does the coach gauge his team's hitting game at this point?
Amy Adcox (27-3, 0.98 era) will get the nod on the hill, Knierim did not release the starter for the Magic.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. You can call him at 693-1551, ext. 3234 or E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.