Valdosta, GA - The last out of the Divison-II South Super Regional was met by warm embraces. The first person VSU Head Softball Coach Thomas Macera found was his daughter.
"It means a lot to me," said Macera, who was choked up in a moment of reflection. "I spend a lot of time away from my family to do this and, you know, it takes 90 hours a week. So I see my kids when I go to bed. So for them to be here, it's big."
Macera will take his other family, the Lady Blazers, into the NCAA Division-II National Tournament for the second time in three years. They were runners-up in 2010.
"I definitely heard all about it being the next year coming in," senior third baseman Samantha Posey said. "I definitely think it is unfinished business and I think we can do it. We have the chemistry, the cohesiveness and we have the athletes."
"Our favorite saying is eyes forward, we're only looking ahead," Macera said. "We're not gonna sit here and relish on two years ago."
They have little time to prepare for Wednesday's opponent. They leave Monday morning for Louisville, Kentucky, the site of the tournament.
"Just trying to stay mentally tough, keep working hard day in and day out. Don't take a day off," senior pitcher Alanna Hadley said.
Hadley pitched 23 innings in two days over the weekend. She is expected to start game one.
"I'm not a strikeout pitcher, so trying to spot the ball, put it on the corners and give my defense a chance to make plays for me and that's what we've done all year," she said.
They started the tournament as the top-ranked team in the country and hopefully they'll end the tournament number one.