2001 Lady Eagles raised the bar for MCC softball program
Saturday, May 19, 2001
KISSIMMEE, Fla. It was a bittersweet week for the Meridian Community Lady Eagles, who came to this cartoon world with visions and dreams of an NJCAA Fastpitch National Championship, only to come away the seventh best team in the country.
Robert Eakins' bunch came away from the tournament with its best finish ever. Last year, in the team's first visit to the nationals in fastpitch, they were shown the door with nothing.
This time, however, they have the solace of knowing they have raised the bar once again this year for MCC softball.
By going 2-2 in the 21st annual event, they have not only gained the respect of their opponents, they have added more from their fans back in Meridian and most certainly gained even more from their peers across the country.
For Eakins, it must have felt pretty good to walk through the press area and office tower at the Osceola County Softball Complex after knocking off Indian Hills. As I followed and watched from behind, every coach, media member and NJCAA official had plenty of pats on the back for him.
But he took it all with his brand of humility. There's no doubt in my mind that Osceola hated to see him go. Probably the gruffest man you'll ever meet in OCSC supervisor Lynn Scherr, looked as if he was going to get choked up when giving Eakins his farewell handshake. He outright told Eakins he wanted to see the Lady Eagles pull it off. Make no mistake about it, MCC has found plenty of allies in central Florida.
Eakins is not a man who looks to take credit or praise. So I'll use this space to give it to him simply because he deserves it.
What he has done Meridian Community College's program cannot be measured.
He has taken this program to yet another level and Friday evening I told him it was to his credit.
Eakins being Eakins, would have none of that.
Next year he loses a big part of that car, as seven sophomores depart to whatever their futures hold.
Will Eakins be able to make it back? Who knows?
He was too busy thanking others to think too much about it at that moment, such as the fans of MCC softball.
15 other teams will leave this town unhappy and nine others left OCSC before the Lady Eagles. That's nothing to sneeze at. The only thing tougher here than the beat-you-down temperature is the competition and until you've seen it first hand, you'll never really understand.
He'll miss the LaKenya Wilsons and the Faith Robinsons and the Amy Adcoxs to name a few, but hopefully the program's sake, the next group will take a higher step.
Class. That's a trait Eakins himself seems to have down pat.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. You can call him at 693-1551, ext. 3234 or E-mail him at email@example.com.