When it comes to softball, Tallahassee’s higher education institutions are on a roll. Florida A&M, Florida State and Tallahassee Community College’s women’s teams are all heading to playoffs, giving the Capital City something to cheer about.
The TCC Eagles Softball team is playing for a national championship starting Wednesday in Utah. The trip caps a series of state and regional wins for the team, including knocking off higher-ranked teams during the season. In a video posted on TCC’s athletics website, head coach Patty Townsend says the team has been focused on one goal: getting to nationals.
“The kids have just worked extremely hard this year. They’ve been focused from the get-go of what they wanted and what they’re goals are this year," she says.
TCC women’s softball team clinched its first conference, district and state titles in more than 16 years. They now go into the start of the national championship series ranked at number three in the nation.
Meanwhile the women’s softball team at Florida A&M University is heading to regional playoffs after winning the Mid-Eastern Athletics Conference Title.
“This is our opportunity for our girls to continue playing. You have to really win the conference," says FAMU Assistant Softball coach Lori Goodart, "And seeing as how we haven’t been back since 2009, this is a whole new set of girls, a whole new experience for them ,and I couldn’t be more excited for them.”
FAMU will face off against the University of Florida this weekend, a series Goodart admits will be tough—especially because UF beat FAMU during the regular season.
The FAMU men’s baseball team scored a big upset against the UF men’s team a few weeks ago. The men’s team has also won a division title—the first in at least 17 years. If the FAMU men’s baseball team can wins the conference title says FAMU Athletics spokesman Alvin Hollins, it’ll be the first time since 1994 that FAMU teams have brought home a conference title in the same year.
“That’s what we’re hopeful for, and it will be the first regional appearance ever for a FAMU baseball team if they can win the conference. Never been to a regional," he says.
As the Rattlers gear up for big games this weekend, they’re not alone. At Florida State University, the team is hard at work. Some players are working at perfecting their swing, others are running a series of drills on the field. Above it all, sits Lonni Alameda, FSU softball head coach. She’s in her office above the playing field studying game footage of Fordham University—the school FSU will play this weekend in the first round of playoffs, after winning the ACC Conference championship.
“We play Fordham Friday night so we’re just watching the hitters a little bit so when we get together with the pitching staff, we can make plans," Alameda says. "Then we have to get after USF and South Carolina so we’re ready to go. We’re also pre-planning and watching some video for next weekend because you never know.”
Alameda says it’s an exciting time, especially since FSU got all the way to the semi-finals last year. This time, they’re trying to get all the way to the college World Series, and will get to play the first round this weekend at home. Junior Lacey Waldrop was also on the team last year, and is hungry for a national title.
“We’ve been to regionals every year that I’ve been here, so that’s a staple for the program. Always in post season, this year, just kicking it to the next level and being a Top 8 seed is huge. It gives you an advantage and shows the level of respect people have for our program, and it’s just fun to be a part of it year in and year out," she says.
What is making this year all the more remarkable is that all three school ball teams are vying for big championship wins at the same time. Between FAMU, FSU and TCC softball and baseball, Tallahassee could soon be home to yet another major collegiate sporting title.