May 5, 2004
Thomasville- When former Valdosta State assistant Thomas Macera took the head coaching job at Thomas University, he inherited over a young program still looking for its first winning season.
Five years later, Macera's Night Hawks are the number one ranked team in the nation in the NAIA polls and looking for the school's first ever national championship.
Thomas Macera said "We have just worked hard over the years and just try to build a program and we got lucky on some athletes and it just comes together for you."
Senior outfielder Tania Black said "I think my heart stopped for a little awhile. I think everyone's did. We were all every excited and we couldn't believe we were actually, finally there."
It is quite an accomplishment for a tiny school of several hundred students to be ranked higher than others whose enrollment is ten and in some cases 30 times higher than Thomas University where softball is now the talk on campus.
Junior pitcher Cathy Andrijaszyn said "They just congratulate you and say thanks. They want to know when our next game is and they are actually disappointed they have not come out to see any games."
Championship teams are built on pitching and defense but the difference for the Lady Night Hawks is an offense that has a .440 team batting average and has hit a NAIA single season record 55 homeruns this year.
Macera said "I don't think anybody can hit with us because we have a good defense and we have good pitching but I have never seen a team at this level swing a bat like this team does."
Last year, Thomas University finished ninth in their first ever trip to the national tournament. The goal this year of course is to win, even with that number one bullseye painted on their backs.
Andrijaszyn said "There is probably only one or two teams out there that we haven't played this year that are strong and probably would be competitive with us but I think we will do fine."
Macera said "You are not chasing anymore. Your are being chased and I think it takes the pressure off of us."
Thomas University has already qualified for the NAIA national tournament on May 21-26 in Decatur, Alabama.
The Night Hawks next game is Monday in the Region XIII tournament in Montgomery, Alabama.
posted at 12:25pm by email@example.com