Even though it is beginning to feel commonplace, there is no reason to regard Anderson University’s Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference softball championship as insufficient reason for celebration.
The Ravens, led by head coach Tony Holloway and assisted by Justin Bates and Mike Lee, rolled over their league foes Friday and Saturday. They scored more than three times the number of runs as their three foes.
It was their fourth straight HCAC title and it came in a season where most of the conference opponents thought this was the ideal time to get some payback against the Ravens, who had graduated much of their team that went to the NCAA Division III World Series the season before.
How could the 2014 version manage to reason such lofty heights? The tournament roster has no seniors, four juniors, three sophomores and 11 freshmen. Certainly such a young group would wilt under the traditional expectations and tournament pressure the Ravens would experience.
Next up for this powerhouse group is a trip to Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington for the NCAA Divsion III Regional tournament.
The No. 2-seeded Ravens will take on No. 3 Fontbonne (34-5) on Friday. AU defeated the Griffins 4-1 in the season opener this season in Clermont, Fla.
It is Anderson’s second trip to Illinois Wesleyan in the last three years. The Ravens are 29-7 this season and are making the program’s seventh trip to the NCAA Tournament. Illinois Wesleyan will enter the tourney with a 37-5 record. The other teams in the regional are No. 4 seed Lake Forest (26-8) and No. 1 seed Illinois Wesleyan (37-5).
Should the Ravens win that first game Friday, they would play at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. A loss in the first round would make the second contest for AU at 11 a.m. on Saturday in this double-elimination event.
At each step the competition is better and the challenge more severe. But there would be very little shock and quite a bit of awe if the Ravens post three wins and continue to move forward toward another World Series berth.