Once high school comes to an end, most athletes hang up their cleats alongside any dreams of playing on the grand stage of a collegiate World Series.
The 13 players of the Michigan State club softball team took that dusty dream and made it their reality for the second consecutive year.
The Spartans placed second at Super Regionals after defeating Kentucky and Wisconsin. The Super Regional placing presented a berth to the National Club Softball Association World Series in Columbus, Ga. May 14-16.
The Spartans opened up the double-elimination NCSA World Series against the Ohio State Buckeyes, who they were 1-4 against in the regular season. The Spartans ended up falling short to the Buckeyes and were eliminated later in the 16-team tournament by Eastern Illinois.
Although the Florida Gators ended up hoisting the trophy at the conclusion of the weekend, Michigan State’s travels to Georgia did not go unnoticed after a program transformation within the last couple years.
In 2007, MSU established a club softball team, but it was not until 2010 when the team joined the NCSA. The program never reached postseason play in the first eight years of existence.
It was not until head coach Bob Every stepped in that Michigan State club softball was no longer about simply playing, but competing.
As the former head coach at Lansing Community College, Every led his team to eight National Junior College Athletic National Championships.
“I felt that when (we) got there that the mentality was like intramural sports,” Every said to the Lansing State Journal. “Just go out there and have fun, not care about winning and losing. When I took the job I had a chance to implement my philosophies on how to win.”
That intramural mentality was soon diminished and dreams that were believed to be too big for the softball club became a reality.
“Before he arrived we didn’t know about the World Series and he made us want to reach them,” senior third baseman Kelly O’Connell said to the LSJ.
From the inability to reach the postseason to back-to-back World Series appearances, Spartan club softball is establishing a name in the NCSA. A name that the players did not even realize was possible just a few years back.
Nicole Daniel is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.
Photo: Michigan State University Club Softball