My state/juco notes for today focused on the Friends softball team, something I was leading up to for a couple weeks but hadn’t pulled the trigger on the story because I was waiting for them to make a move in the standings, which they did. If you don’t know the backstory, here it is in a nutshell: Two-time defending KCAC champs have 31-game league winning streak broken, fall into second place then regroup to peel off six straight wins including a sweep of the first place team and take back the league lead.
It’s like a movie pitch! Get me in a room with a couple of producers.
Anyhow, space was limited so I didn’t get to hit on a couple of things — not that they took away from the story — but I thought they merited mention here. Mainly, there is going to be a different route back to the NAIA national tournament for the Falcons if they’re going to make a run at their stated goal, a national title. The NAIA did away with the regional tournaments, which was how they qualified last year, so instead the winner of the KCAC tournament gets the automatic bid. So what does winning the regular-season title get you? The top seed at a tournament held at a neutral site — Ottawa. So not a whole heck of a lot, if you ask me.
Here’s what Friends coach Tony Segovia had to say about it:
“What we’ve got to understand is that it all comes down to the league tournament, because there’s no way the KCAC is going to get an at-large bid to the national tournament. That just won’t happen.”
No, it won’t. That’s just real talk. Regional respect is one thing, national respect is a whole ‘nother ballgame. But Friends knows this and have planned accordingly. Segovia’s got a nice squad — the glut of my article focused on shortstop Megan VinZant, who is putting up sick numbers — but this is a really well-rounded team. It’s pretty unheard of to have the last two league players of the year (Vinzant in 07 and Haley Martin in 08) on the same roster. Not only that, but they’ve got two dominating pitchers on the roster in last year’s KCAC pitcher of the year Brandi Leeker and Stephanie McCarthy, a first team all-KCAC pick a year ago. This team is a monster, no doubt. Want further proof?