Trevecca Nazarene’s softball team has overcome injuries and a short bench all season. Now the Lady Trojans feel they will be at their best when needed – at the NAIA National Softball Championship, May 20-26 at Decatur, Ala.
From their perspective, the timing of the tournament could not be better.
“We aren’t in school right now so we can just do what we do best: play ball,” coach Ben Tyree said. “We’ve been through so many bumps, bruises and nagging injuries but (our players) fight through it—they’re strong-willed.
“Now we get to fight for our lives.”
The pairings for NAIA championship were announced Tuesday, and TNU (41-15) learned that its first opponent will be Savannah College of Arts and Design (31-15). That game will take place 9 a.m. on May 20.
The event begins with eight four-team qualifying pools. The top team from each pool, based on round-robin play, advances to a double-elimination round.
Trevecca’s group, which Tyree considers one of the toughest, also includes Notre Dame (Ohio) (25-24) and in-state power Lee University (55-4).
“Our attitude is that we have to work hard this week, work through the pain,” senior Monica West, the TranSouth Conference player of the year, said. “We know that these teams are going to be tougher and the pitching will be better.”
Trevecca, ranked No. 17 in the NAIA, has won nine of its last 12. That stretch included the TranSouth tournament title, which brought with it an automatic invitation to the national tournament.
The program last made it to the national championship field in 2008.
“We all said ‘I think we peaked at the right time,’” pitcher Riley Mashburn said. “Last year we never got to a peaking point. Now we’re coming off a winning season, winning the conference tournament. We feel like we’re getting stronger and stronger.”