On a chilly, windy, partly cloudy, Friday afternoon, the president of Tyler Junior College, Dr. Mike Metke takes the mound at Schwab Field located at Brook Hill High School in Bullard. He leans back and throws the ceremonial first pitch to TJC catcher, Amber Landry. Strike! A new generation has just begun.
As the wind blew over Schwab Field, the starting nine players for TJC take the field to begin warmups. The lineup for the history-making game vs East Texas Baptist University was: Jaclyn Molenaar – center field , Madison Langston – second base, Marina Duran – right field, Lacie Stevens- third base, Halle Sabo first base, Amber Landry – catcher, Brittani Whitten – left field, Rachel Brockhaus –designated player, Haley Mills- short stop and Halie Vance- pitcher.
TJC starting pitcher Halie Vance pitched a great first inning. The first at-bat of TJC softball history was center-fielder, Jaclyn Molenaar. She works a leadoff walk, but doesn’t score. The second inning goes smoothly for both teams, but in the top of the 3rd, Halie Vance gives up a 2-run home run. In the bottom of the third, Jaclyn Molenaar makes more history as she gets the first base hit for TJC and scores the first run with a base hit from third baseman, Lacie Stevens. TJC ties the game at two with a double from shortstop Haley Mills in the bottom of the fourth inning. The fifth inning, ETBU broke out and scored six runs to make it an 8-2 game. In the bottom of the sixth, left-fielder Brittani Whitten hit the first homerun in TJC softball history. ETBU tacked on two more runs in the top of the seventh inning to make the final score 10-3.
The second game of the doubleheader had a better result for TJC as they won 3-2 in extra innings. The cause of the first game loss could have been because of not knowing what to expect.
“I think our energy was down in the first game,” said Head Coach Nicole Dickson, “Which could have been a little bit of nerves.”
Freshman outfielder Brittani Whitten was excited to make history.
“It feels pretty awesome like knowing I could personally be apart of something so big, and just being with an amazing team and being with amazing people,” said Whitten.
Freshman pitcher from Tyler Kristi Springer pitched three innings in the second game win.
“I was nervous a little bit but it felt really good,” said Springer.
Coach Dickson thinks this team is very good and can prove a lot despite having a rough first game.
“I think, we have a lot of potential,” said Dickson. “This group is very talented, so if we can just get a little bit more confident, and more reps, and more experience, they’re going to go a long way.”
One of the happiest people leaving Schwab Field was TJC athletic director, Tim Drain, who was smiling from ear to ear after the game
“It was a good first day,” said Drain. “Softball is very popular in this part of Texas. Our coaches do a phenomenal job of going out there and finding the good players. I think we’re going to be pretty competitive early on.”
It’s going to be an exciting year watching history be made right in front of our eyes.
“We’re excited. TJC has one of the best athletic programs in all sports across the country. We just want to go out and represent them well,” said Dickson.
For schedules and rosters, go to apacheathletics.com for more information. Home games will be played at Falkner Park located at 410 W. Cumberland Road in Tyler.