Hale Vaults into Louisiana Tech Record Books with Career Game

By: Blake Bolin

                A miserable morning turned into an unforgettable experience this past weekend for Louisiana Tech softball junior Dacia Hale.

On the morning of May 10, the Hillsboro, Oregon native Hale awoke battling a twenty four hour stomach virus, but that didn’t change her mindset as she prepared for the opening game of the Western Athletic Conference Softball Tournament later that afternoon.

The Techsters were set to face the third seed, Fresno State, a team Louisiana Tech had never beaten twice in a single season.

Back home, the Hale family gathered around their television to watch their daughter compete for a WAC championship, but even they could not have expected the show Dacia was set to put on.

Louisiana Tech rallied for seventeen runs, scoring every inning, as the Techsters went on to ten-run-rule Fresno State, backed behind the bat of the centerfielder Dacia Hale.

“You could feel it, it was gone. I didn’t know if it was fair or not, but it was going to be far.”

Those were the thoughts from Hale as her third homerun of the game left the bat in the sixth inning against Fresno State. Hale finished the game with three homeruns and 11 runs batted in.

“I remember rounding second and thinking oh my, gosh, I just hit three home runs in one game,” commented Hale on the remarkable feat.

The game was split over two days after rain halted play during the fifth inning on day one. Hale had already homered in the second and third innings, breaking Tech’s single game record by driving in eight runs.

Hale did not want expectations to be too high when the game resumed play the following day.

“After the first day I didn’t want to make any expectations, I just wanted to go hit,” explained Hale.

The pressure was on for Hale in her final at bat, and she knew it.

“I knew that there was a lot expected but I didn’t expect anything from myself. I went in to each at bat thinking I just wanted to get a base hit,” remarked Hale on her mindset going into the final at bat.

Hale not only got a hit, but exceeded expectations by belting her second three run homerun of the game during her final at bat in the sixth inning. Hale shattered multiple Louisiana Tech records, while also tying the NCAA single game RBI record. The record breaking day caught national headlines as Dacia was featured on ESPNU’s Sportscenter.

“I was sitting there and thought this is ESPN U and that’s me hitting a homerun. It was just fun to get noticed for doing something good.”

Hale set single game Louisiana Tech records for homeruns (3), runs batted in (11), and total bases (12).

The Techsters defeated Nevada before eventually being eliminated by Fresno State in the WAC quarterfinals.

While coming up a tad bit short, the Techsters will use this season WAC tournament as motivation for the future.

“Beating a team like Fresno 17-7 lets us know we can do it. We just run ruled a team that has never missed an NCAA tournament. I think that’s an inspiration. Every time we’re having a bad game or stretch just think back to that game to know that we hit the best pitchers in our conference,” reflected Hale on what the team will take from the tournament.

The bar is set high for 2013 as Hale has big expectations for the Techsters, “Our goal is to win the WAC, we have some teams leaving and some teams coming in and I think we have a really good chance of coming out on top next year.”

 

Softball Sisterhood

BY KALEB CAUSEY

Erin and Alayna Kipp await the start of a game with their teammates.

Erin and Alayna Kipp are two sisters that have been playing softball with each other since they were small children, and now, they both play collegiately for the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters.

 

Erin is a sophomore and plays outfield and pitches. Alayna is a freshman and plays catcher.

 

Erin said she and her sister struggled a lot when they weren’t on the same team.

 

“We were always on the same team with our dad coaching,” Erin said. “For one year we were on different teams, and we didn’t like it at all. It was really hard on our parents because we had to share them unless we were playing each other.”

 

Sarah Dawson, Lady Techster’s head coach, said they have an interesting connection on and off the field.

 

“They’ve always been pretty close, especially when Erin is pitching to Alayna,” Dawson said. “When we’re off the field, they’re always together at the dinner table on road games or in the dugout.”

 

Erin said she really enjoys the bond she shares with her sister on the field and off.

 

“I love when she’s catching for me,” Erin said. “It’s really different when we’re not paired up like that.”

 

Dawson said recruiting the two sisters came pretty easily after she discovered Erin’s pitching talents.

 

“We were looking for a pitcher that year and Erin fit what we were looking for,” Dawson said. “We knew that the two of them wanted to go to school together and it just so happened that we needed a catcher for the next year, so it worked out pretty well.”

 

Alayna said when her sister visited Tech, she loved it. When Alayna saw that excitement from Erin, she knew Tech was where she wanted to go too.

 

Both sisters said they benefit more than just off the field with having their sibling around.

 

“She’s always there for me if I’m having a problem,” Alayna said. “It’s really helped a lot, especially when our parents aren’t around to give us advice.”

 

Erin said she really enjoys sharing the success and experiences with her sister.

 

“It’s been a really great experience getting to travel and succeed with her,” Erin said. “I can always talk to her when I’m struggling and in a slump.”

 

Dawson said this isn’t the first time the Lady Techsters have featured sisters on their roster.

 

“Last year we had Cassie and Meghan Krieg,” Dawson said. “I noticed the same connection between those two. Both sets of sisters are always challenging each other during practice and games.”

 

Cassie still plays softball for Dawson and her sister graduated last year. Meghan was an all-WAC pitcher for the Techsters.

 

Erin and Alayna both said they always wanted to play softball together at the college level and were only going to go to a school that would have both of them.

 

“We always wanted to play together and finish together,” Alayna said.

From the Road to the Stands

BY KALEB CAUSEY

The stands during a Lady Techsters softball game features many different types of people, including parents.

Softball has proved that it is not just a sport for college athletes, but it’s also a sport for the team’s most passionate fans, the parents.

Three parents spend a majority of their weekends on the road and in the stands to see their daughters play collegiate softball for the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters.

“We drive four and a half hours to see Meghan play,” Karen Knowles, mother of Meghan Knowles, said. “We love coming and it’s not stressful at all.”

DeWayne Harmon, father of Kendra Harmon, said it can be stressful for his family at times.

“It’s stressful trying to juggle softball, work and duties around the house,” Harmon said.

Bill Winter, father of Hailey Winter, said he’s always arranging around the season schedule.

“Hailey’s games are always a priority,” Winter said. “I work my schedule around when she’s playing ball.”

Winter also said he makes every home game that he can and he only missed two home games this year.

All three parents said they’re girls started playing softball at an age between 6-8 and have been passionate about it ever since.

The three girls also had a lot of influence from their parents past to get into softball and other sports.

Knowles said she played college basketball and her husband was a high school baseball coach at the time.

Harmon and his wife played sports for the majority of their lives and Winter was a baseball player.

“I always let her make her own choices when it came to sports,” Winter said. “If she ever needed a little nudge, I was there for her, but it was always her choice to play softball.”

Knowles and Harmon even have other family members that have played or will play collegiate softball.

“Her cousin Brittany plays at UT Dallas,” Knowles said. “Another one of her cousins will play at the University of Memphis as well.”

Harmon said that his oldest daughter played softball for the University of Southern Mississippi.

Winter said he is extremely glad his daughter chose Louisiana Tech and the school has really impressed him.

“We always put academics before sports,” Winter said. “Louisiana Tech is a great academic school as well as a great place for Hailey to play softball.”

He said the choice didn’t come easy. Winter said they were talking to around six other schools and when an offer came from Tech, they knew it was where they needed to be.

Harmon said being a softball parent is no easy task. He also said that it does have it’s positives as well.

“When the girls are young, you have to take them to practice and games,” Harmon said. “When they get older, they’re traveling to places like Hawaii and California. It’s not just a commitment for the girls; it’s a commitment for us too. We’ve made a lot of great friends on the way though.”

“They’re going to have to put me in a straight jacket when her career is over,” Winter said. “Hailey loves the game and I love working with her.”

Softball players travel from Oregon to Louisiana, from opponents to teammates

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BY NATALIE MCELWEE

Louisiana Tech University is home to many students with unique journeys. Dacia Hale and Amanda Krueger are no exception.

Both softball players hale from Oregon and were once long-time enemies on the field before joining together at the College of Siskiyous, a junior college in California. Becoming teammates brought them together as athletes as well as friends. Louisiana Tech is the current stop on their softball journey.

Krueger and Hale said they wanted change when they decided to move to Louisiana.

“I wanted to experience something different than Oregon,” Krueger.

“I agree with Amanda,” Hale said. “It was time to get away from home.”

Aside from adjusting to a new college and team, the players admitted the most difficult thing about moving was getting used to the southern state.

“It’s completely different,” Krueger said. “It’s crazy how different it is. It’s a lot more conservative down here than it is down in Oregon and that was one thing we had to adapt to.”

Hale said she has trouble adjusting to the conservative nature of the south.

“Back home, being weird is being normal,” she said. “I feel that a lot of people down here have judged people who are different. Back home, not a lot of people judge. People are more judgmental after just looking at someone.”

Krueger said she often gets judged for not using southern expressions.

“We don’t say ma’am or sir,” she said. “People think we’re rude.”

“People down here talk so differently,” Hale said, agreeing with Krueger. “You guys have such different expressions.”

Aside from the expressions the people use, Hale and Krueger have had to get accustomed to the weather and nature of Louisiana.

“I hate the heat,” Hale said. “When I was getting recruited, I told my coach I’d never go anywhere it was hot and humid, and I came exactly where it was hot and humid. I’ve always been a cold-weather person. If it’s 70 degrees, I wake up and think it’s too hot.”

“The bugs down here are on steroids,” Krueger said, wide-eyed. “It’s nuts. I’m not a fan of them. I’ve learned to kill them.”

“We have a lot more mountains and landscape,” Hale said “The trees here are small. They look big, but they’re big bushes compared to our trees. Our trees are like huge Christmas trees.”

One thing the girls said has helped their transition to a different region is the welcome they have received from the people they have encountered.

“Everyone says hi to everyone,” Hale said. “They’re really nice.

“Everyone has been really hospitable to us,” Krueger said, smiling.

The girls said they have enjoyed experiencing the culture Louisiana has to offer.

“I like how unique it is,” Krueger said. “It was cool learning about Mardi Gras and the different traditions because we really don’t have all that stuff back home. The food is pretty good. I love crawfish boils.”

These two softball stars plan on continuing to play for Tech throughout college even if that means playing in the humid air and stocking up on the bug spray.

Softball player savors sweet treats as well as winning runs

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Louisiana Tech Softball reflects player's candy obsession.

BY NATALIE MCELWEE

For most college students, their cell phone is almost as necessary to their existence as oxygen. In Charday Wilson’s case, a cell phone holds no candle to her obsession and need for candy.

This 22–year-old cannot remember a time when she was without a sweet treat.

“I love candy,” she said with a grin. “I always have. If someone told me they didn’t like candy, I’d think they were probably crazy. I’d have to open my bag, show them everything I have and tell them to at least try it.”

Wilson has loved all sugary treats since she was a youngster.

“Candy has always been my reward,” she said. “If my family wanted me to be good, they gave me candy. They wanted me to be quiet in church, they gave me candy. So, I’ve always eaten a lot of it. It’s a good reward. Now, it’s not the best because I’m stuck on it.”

Wilson said all the members of her family have been known to have a sweet tooth or two.

“I think all of my family eaters are big sweets eaters,” she said. “My grandmother eats like 10 pies and 8 cakes for Thanksgiving, so we all eat a lot of sweets.”

Wilson is not the only one getting a sugar rush. Her teammates also benefit from this candy-coated compulsion.

“My teammates think it’s funny and ironic that I love candy so much and I’m so small,” she said. “They always ask for my candy, and I always share. They like it.”

Fellow teammate and roommate Erin Kipp is one of the beneficiaries of Wilson’s candy craze.

“She always has a snack, so if I ever need one, she’ll always have one,” she said. “I don’t see anything wrong with her obsession. I’ve never seen anyone who loves candy as much as she does, but it works. If I don’t want some kind of candy, we swap. She doesn’t like Reese’s and I love Reese’s, so we’ll switch candy.”

Kipp said she has witnessed Wilson’s love of the sweet delights ever since they first spent time together.

“I roomed with her last year in the hotel, and she would have candy wrappers all in her bed,” she said. “She would be eating them while we were there, and there would be candy wrappers everywhere. It was so funny.”

Kipp said she and the rest of the team find the candy fixation as lucrative as a miniature candy factory.

“Everybody thinks it’s so funny when they see her candy wrappers all in her bed,” she said. “They like to mooch off her candy stash.”

Wilson admittedly eats at least a package of candy a day. With all of this crazy candy consumption, her dentist is one of her biggest fans.

“I’ve had a ton of cavities,” she said. “I probably have some now. When I was little, I had to have surgery on my mouth to get all the cavities out. The most cavities I’ve had at one time were 25. My dentist probably likes my candy habit. It keeps me coming back.”

After this many years as a self-proclaimed candy-holic, Wilson said she does not have any plans on stopping her candy confection compulsion anytime soon.

Two Lady Techsters hunt for more than a homerun

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Kendra Harmon (right) with the deer she killed for her television show for Outdoor Channel.

BY KALEB CAUSEY

Spending time in the woods hoping for the next big kill has proven to be an exciting way for two Lady Techsters to spend theirtime off the field.

Kendra Harmon, a senior left fielder, and Janine Godwin, a freshman outfielder, have more in common than softball. They both love deer hunting.

Harmon and Godwin are both from small towns where they said their families were their main influence to start hunting.

Godwin said in her hometown of Princeton, Texas, people’s favorite extra-curricular activities involve hunting and fishing. For Harmon, the situation is the same and she said her family has a deer stand in her back yard.

“My mom and dad would take me hunting when I was as young as two,” Harmon said. “They would bring me in their deer stands with them and I would go to sleep on the floor.”

Godwin said she had been going with her father to their deer lease since she was around the age of two as well.

Even though they both started hunting around the same age, Godwin just recently killed her first deer.

“I killed my first deer over this past Thanksgiving break,” Godwin said. “When I was little, I never wanted to shoot a deer because I was a big animal person that didn’t want to kill them.”

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Janine Godwin with her first ever deer.

Harmon, on the other hand, has a completely different story and killed her first deer when she was just 6 years old.

“All I remember was being with my dad,” Harmon said. “He let me get on his lap to kill the deer.”

Harmon was recently given the opportunity to be featured on an episode of Outdoor Channel’s “Mossy Oak’s Hunting in the Country”.

“My family and I go to Giles Island every Christmas to hunt,” she said. “The host of the show was at Giles the same time that I was the year before. They called Giles and asked if we were coming back this past year because they wanted to put us on the show.”

Harmon said recording a television show was a new experience for her.

“It was very odd getting used to having a camera in my face all of the time,” Harmon said. “Every where I went, I had a camera following me and was hooked up to a microphone.”

Godwin does not just stick to deer hunting. She enjoys hunting turkeys, rabbits and squirrels as well as deer.

“I’ve only killed one deer,” Godwin said. “I’m hoping for a lot more though.”

Harmon’s favorite story actually involves a mixture of snacks and a running deer.

“I’m not the type of hunter that just sits and waits on a deer,” Harmon said. “I have to have candy, Coke, chips and my cell phone with me.”

While Harmon was on a guided hunt at Giles Island, she was getting her usual snacks and cell phone ready after entering the stand when her guide started yelling at her.

“He kept telling me to get my gun up,” she said. “Before I could even get it up, he was telling me to shoot a deer that I haven’t even seen yet. When I saw the deer, it was a huge buck running across the food plot that we were hunting, so the guide yelled at the buck after grunting at it didn’t work. It stopped just before it entered the woods and I got to shoot him.”

Godwin and Harmon both said that no matter what, softball always comes before hunting, no matter how bad their buck fever is.

Softball coach finds joy from a different type of diamond

 

BY NATALIE MCELWEE

Some people may be shocked to find out that ‘Softball’ is not Sarah Dawson’s middle name. This 37-year-old, now head coach of the Louisiana Tech University softball team, has been around the softball field ever since she was too young to hold a bat.

Coming from a family of softball players and coaches, Dawson was destined to follow in those cleat-steps.

“I started playing softball between the ages of five and six years old,” she said. “My mother had been a softball player and a really successful one at that. I have two other sisters and I think we all took to softball more than some of the other sports that we played. So I’ve kind of played it my entire life or at least been around it.”

Since discovering the beloved game at such an early age, Dawson accomplished more than can be counted on a scoreboard.

“There was definitely a turning point in high school when I chose for myself that I didn’t just want to play softball,” she said. “I had softball goals I wanted to accomplish.”

And accomplish goals Dawson did, some of which include being named an All-American, playing with the American National team against Australia and spending a summer playing softball in Italy.

Dawson said her biggest achievement has not come from awards and honors but from within.

“I figured out how to be successful with what I had and kind of pushed my ability as far as I could push it,” she said. “I was never going to be the top five in the nation, but I could be top ten. In my mind, that’s what I feel good about.”

Out of years playing and experiencing the sport, Dawson said her favorite memory of softball so far is her years spent on the college team at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

“I was able to play with my younger sister,” she said. “She’s just a year younger than me, and so playing with her was a really special thing to share. There was actually a group of four or five of us from the San Diego area that went to school together, so that was a special thing. Most people when they get to college play with a new set of teammates, so that was kind of cool to be able to play with that group of people for three years.”

Dawson has been head coach of softball at Tech since 2003. When asked about her future plans, she could not help but smile while answering.

“Well, this summer I’m getting married, so I’m excited about that,” she said with a grin. “That will be really kind of a cool thing. I’m 37. To get married at this age is kind of a life-changer.”

Softball has been a source of joy for Dawson throughout her life, opening many doors. It just so happens, the game helped Dawson find someone who would impact her life in one of the greatest of ways.

Of the many things that make this engagement special is one simple fact: Brad Kerr, her now fiancé, is also her assistant softball coach of almost three years. To say softball has impacted every vessel of Dawson’s life is an understatement.

“We’ve been dating for two years,” she said. “When the team doesn’t play well, it can be tough. We both have a bad day at work. We’ve learned to balance each other out. We communicate with one another.”

While some men might feel emasculated to work for their future wife, Dawson said it has not affected their relationship.

“Nothing has changed since we’ve been engaged,” she said. “He doesn’t get preferential treatment and he doesn’t get worse treatment since we are engaged. Hopefully I don’t treat him any differently because we are in a relationship.”

Kerr’s proposal did not involve softball but did involve two other loves of her life: her two-year-old niece, Quinn, and five-year-old nephew, Nate.

“Brad had said that it was Nate’s ideas to make birthday cards for me since my birthday was a week away,” Dawson said. “I was going to have to judge them. Nate had a card that said ‘Will you’, Quinn’s said ‘marry me?’ and Brad was on one knee with a ring. It was pretty cool that he involved the kids because I love my nieces and nephews.”

The couple plans to marry in Dawson’s hometown of San Diego this summer. Dawson said if she and Kerr have a son one day, she will not mind him crossing over to the dark side of baseball.

Young Lady Techsters Deal with Transition from High School to College

 

BY BLAKE BOLIN

The transition from high school to college can be a tremendous challenge for anyone, but for a collegiate softball player, it means that much more.

The 2012 Louisiana Tech softball team features four true freshman who have experienced this change first hand. There are many difficulties to overcome whether that be on the softball field itself or in the classroom.

Janine Godwin, a freshman outfielder, realized quickly that college was not going to be a breeze.

“There is a realization that you’re not gonna get A’s in every class, coming here and getting A’s and B’s is just a wake up call that its not all easy,” commented Godwin.

Alayna Kipp, a freshman catcher, agreed with Godwin’s comments about the difficulty of transitioning from high school to college.

“It’s a lot harder, you have a lot more things going on here and it’s just a lot harder in the classes. You don’t get babied like in high school,” said Kipp.

Hailey Winter, a freshman third baseman, discussed some positives academics wise of switching from high school to college.

“In high school you were always monitored but now in college you have a whole lot more freedom to do what you want, also, I like the fact that classes are every other day and I have time to get everything done.”

Going from softball in high school to softball in college may be the biggest reality check for some players. College softball is the best of the best and it’s not always so simple. For one player, that transition was made quite a bit easier.

Alayna Kipp was fortunate enough to have her older sister Erin on the team. Erin a pitcher for the Lady Techsters gave Alayna a lot of help in facing this transition.

“It has helped me so much shes there for me all the time. When she was a freshman she had a little trouble cause she didn’t have anybody here and I came down here I knew some of her friends. I don’t know what I would do without here here,” Alayna remarked on her big sister.

Godwin is excited about this new chapter in her life, although she knows there will be difficult times.

“I started playing softball when I was four years old, and select since I was ten, so it has always been a dream to play college softball,” continued Godwin. “The struggle is dealing with failures. You’re not always going to be prefect and when you get out there and mess up and you think everyone isn’t gonna like you. Everyone fails and is not going to be successful all the time, that’s my biggest struggle.”

Head softball coach Sarah Dawson has given plenty of advice to her freshman about juggling school, softball, and social life.

“We tell them if their priorities are not school first, softball second, and social third, they are not going to be successful in this program. Tech is a strong academic instution and if you fall behind in this quarter system, you are not going to be able to catch up. I feel like this is taken care of already though, because we recruit strong student-athletes. Most players who come here are serious about softball and being student athletes first and are excited about the opportunity to play college softball.”

Every collegiate athlete is going to have their struggles but with the help of those around them, everyone can be successful. Most people at some point will struggle with the transition. These softball players are currently experiencing this and are learning and growing from it as they prepare themselves for their future beyond softball.

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