OXFORD, Ala. — The Danville Area Community College softball team went through an early loss and rain to have a satisfying weekend at the NJCAA Division II National Tournament.
After losing to Murray State last Tuesday, the Lady Jaguars — along with the rest of the teams — had to sit as rain halted play on Wednesday and most of Thursday.
“It sucked in general because we were itching to play,” DACC coach Matt Cervantes said. “We thought since it was down south that the weather would be good and we didn’t get that for about two days. We were trying to find practice facilities and tried to find things to keep the kids entertained. It was a messy situation, but the girls were very resilient and they were flexible to the challenge and it was a big highlight to why they were here.”
The Jaguars started consolation bracket play on Friday with a 6-4 win over Jackson as Raven Morrison had 12 strikeouts on the mound for the first-ever program win in the national tournament.
“When we qualified to get down to nationals, we were talking about how we could do some damage,” Cervantes said. “Getting the first win against Jackson was great because they were a good team with a lot of energy. Raven was lights out and was able to limit the heart of their lineup and we were able to play our ball and to get that first win.”
The next team was Louisberg College, who was rated No. 3 going into the tournament. DACC was down 3-0 after the first inning, but rallied with five runs in the third and would go on to win 10-5. Danielle Shuey had three hits and two RBIs, while Ashlynn McPeak had two hits and two RBIs, Lucy Pursley had two RBIs and McKenzie Richardson, Beth Pavy and Baylee Parker each had two hits and one RBI.
“We knew what Louisberg was about. They are a meaner team in like they like to jaw-jack and talk about the other team and our girls fed into the mindset of not letting that get in the way for us,” Cervantes said. “When they went up 3-0 on us, it was like a fight or flight situation for us and the girls were super resilient. They were on a 45-game win streak before their first loss in the tournament, so that goes to show that we were capable of doing good things.”
The Lady Jaguars would lose on Saturday to Kirkwood Community College 9-1 to finish with a 45-15 record, but Cervantes was pleased with the effort.
“To see that the two teams we lost to were second and third in the nation puts us in the same boat and I am excited to see where we can go next year,” Cervantes said. “I want to thank all of my sophomores. They were the backbone for us and the glue and we are going to miss them.”
With the season over, Cervantes is looking toward the future but will stick to the formula that put them on the road to the tournament this season.
“I think recruiting stays the same for us, we want kids who genuinely want to be a part of the program and want us to win a national championship,” Cervantes said. “Does it help when we win? Yes, but there are some things that we highlight when we talk to our recruits that take precedent for us.”
Cervantes said that the drive to build the Lady Jaguars have been great and hopes to build even more.
“I am jacked because when my wife and I took over, no one wanted a part of this program,” Cervantes said. “Local kids wanted to go to different places and now a lot of the local kids want to stay home and play for a team that wants to rep their community and try to win a national championship. We have seen that we can go and play with the best, now it is a point to build on that and make another run and break more records.”