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AC Softball Hosting Reunion for 2014 National Champs

In Angelina College’s nearly 60-year history, there has been just one national championship team.

This next week, that same team will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its title with a much-anticipated reunion.

The current Lady ‘Runner softball team will play host to the champs in a reunion ceremony scheduled to begin at noon on Saturday, April 20 at Lady Roadrunner Field. The current AC team is scheduled to play a doubleheader against Blinn College starting at 1 p.m., but those attending the reunion will have plenty of room and time to reminisce about one of the greatest moments in Angelina College Athletics history.

Should weather force game cancellation, the ceremony honoring the 2014 team still will take place inside Shands Gymnasium.

Under coaches Mark and Barbi Mattson, the Lady Roadrunner softball team in 2014 featured just two sophomores on its roster. After a slow start – the group started 1-3 in conference play – merely qualifying for the conference tournament seemed like a longshot.  but the team overcame numerous challenges – including airport delays leading to a 39-hour trip just to get to St. George, Utah – on the way to earning their title. They would arrive at the site of the national tournament on just a few hours of sleep (and without having even seen the playing fields).

The 2014 Angelina College Lady Roadrunner softball team poses after winning the national championship in St. George, Utah. The team will hold its 10th-year reunion on Saturday, April 20 at Lady Roadrunner Field on the AC campus. (Gary Stallard/AC Athletics photo)

What transpired was legendary.

AC rallied from a 6-2 deficit to beat a ranked Southern Union College (AL) team 7-6 in extra innings. Next came another extra-inning thriller, with the Lady Roadrunners taking down Jefferson College (MO) team in a walk-off, 4-3 win in nine innings.

Next would come an 8-2 win over Region XIV foe San Jacinto College, followed by a nail-biting 4-2 win over nationally ranked Central Florida College. 

The Lady Roadrunners were in the national championship finals, needing one win in two tries to take the title.

Central Florida didn’t make it easy, taking the first game by a 6-2 margin, setting up the winner-take-all match.

AC’s ladies showed no signs of a letdown after the loss, jumping out to an 8-1 lead before taking an 8-5 win.

When the last out settled into shortstop Sage Martinez’s glove, the team didn’t really celebrate. There was a team hug in the pitching circle, but that was about it.

It was as if they were as shocked as the rest of the softball world.

Prospective attendees for the reunion ceremony are asked to contact Sports Information Director Gary Stallard at gstallard@angelina.edu.

Gary Stallard
Sports Information Director Gary Stallard, who also serves as a Liberal Arts Instructor, begins his eleventh season with Angelina College. Following a career as a U.S. Marine, Stallard completed his bachelor’s degree at Stephen F. Austin University, where he majored in English and Journalism. For more than 16 years, he has worked as a sports writer/columnist/photographer for the Lufkin Daily News; he continues to contribute free-lance articles on occasion. Stallard has won several awards for writing, including the Golden Hoops Award for basketball writing in 2003, Regional Sports Writer of the Year in 2004, and the Texas Press Association’s first-place award for column writing in 2007 and in 2014. He has also done basketball, football and baseball radio and live streaming play-by- play and color commentary for an ESPN affiliate. Currently Stallard serves as play-by-play broadcaster for AC basketball, baseball and softball games. Prior to arriving at Angelina College, Stallard taught English at Lufkin High School for four years. He currently teaches Developmental Writing classes at AC. He and his wife Susan live in Lufkin.

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