For the first time in Anderson University’s storied run of softball teams, first under the guidance of Larry Holloway and now under the leadership of his son Tony, the Ravens reached the final eight in the NCAA Division III tournament.
After the team scored only one run in going 0-2 among that elite collection of teams in Eau Claire, Wis., it would be easy, but inaccurate, to dismiss the trip as less important and groundbreaking than it really was.
This is a team that exemplified never giving up no matter what the odds, and they did it on a local, then regional, then national stage.
During the Heartland College Athletic Conference season, they lost games early and had to win virtually every game down the stretch to have a shot at the title. They won all but one of those games and grabbed second in the season standings.
Then the Ravens won the league tournament to garner a spot in the NCAA Regional Tournament.
They failed to generate a lot of respect from the NCAA and were seeded No. 8 in the eight-team regional field. But they won the tournament, beating the No. 1 seed and No. 2 nationally ranked team twice to do it. In that Elite Eight showdown in Eau Claire, the Ravens scored in their very first inning of that first game, but that was their only run of the tournament.
Anderson University played quality softball with high-quality individuals, and they did it while brandishing the Anderson name. Whenever the city is associated with high-quality and successful people, it’s always a positive accomplishment.
The AU softball team had seven seniors, and they missed the traditional graduation ceremony to be a part of the tournament run. AU President James Edwards traveled to the site of the HCAC Tournament to present diplomas after the Ravens won the tourney.
This is a class act deserving of high praise.