By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Shortly after a disappointing 2008 season, Anderson University softball coach Tony Holloway gathered his staff and his captains together and laid out a five-year plan that would end with contention for a national title.
While the Ravens were playing for their postseason lives in the NCAA Div. III regional at Trine University in Angola this weekend, Holloway got a text from Julia Siefring, the captain of the 2009 team.
“Do you realize this is the fifth year?” she typed.
AU survived five consecutive elimination games and beat Allegheny twice in the championship round to win the first regional championship in school history and advance to the World Series beginning Friday in Eau Claire, Wis.
The Ravens are one of just eight teams still in the national title race, and Holloway reflected on that fact late Monday afternoon after the team returned to campus following a 5-1 win against Allegheny in the final game.
“Everything is done by a lot of commitment from our kids,” he said. “Our kids (on the roster), one to 18, I can go back through the games that we’ve played, the 47 games that we’ve played this year, and I can show you a different star multiple times. And I think that’s the signs of a good team, when you don’t rely on that one main pitcher, that one main hitter. I felt like we were potent (in the batting order) one through nine.”
Former Shenandoah star Yardley Collett was named the regional’s MVP, and she had a hit and an RBI in Monday’s victory.
By the time she stepped off the bus on campus hours later, she still wore a smile on her face. And she echoed Holloway’s words.
“It feels like we’re all just meshing at the right time, we’re peaking at the right time,” she said. “There’s nothing else that I can really say. Everybody from all the little freshies (freshmen) up to the fifth-years (seniors), it took one through 18 to get us to this point.”
AU beat Trine, tournament’s No. 1 seed and the No. 2-ranked team in the nation, in the first round before losing to Aurora a day later. To stay alive in the double-elimination tournament, the Ravens won five games over the next three days — including a second victory against Trine.
“That was a big confidence booster for us, and it tells us that we literally can play with any team in the nation,” said pitcher Devin Moorman, who got the win on Monday. “Going into this next weekend, it should be good. I don’t think we’re out of our league by any means, and we’re just going to play our best game and see what happens.”
The Ravens (31-16) open World Series play on Friday at 2:30 p.m. against Luther (32-9). Each of the World Series games can be viewed live at NCAA.com.