Mavs get NCAA tourney bid, await RMAC foe Metro State

The Mesa State College softball team greets Lauren Cross as she crosses home plate after hitting a home run in the bottom of the sixth inning of the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader at Bergman Field.

Mesa State College’s Sara Jordan hits a single during her turn at bat during a recent game against Regis University.

When Sara Jordan came to Mesa State College, she was concerned.

Everywhere she’s been, she’s pitched and hit for her softball team, but she heard Mesa State coach Kris Mort doesn’t let one player pitch and hit.

“When I came here, Mort never saw me play,” Jordan said. “I’ve always been both (a pitcher and hitter). I was worried I wouldn’t get a chance to do both. Mort saw that in me and took a chance on me doing both.

“It’s been natural for me to pitch and hit. If something doesn’t go your way on the mound, I can make up for it with hitting. If I didn’t hit, I’d go crazy.”

When the junior from San Marcos, Texas, transferred to Mesa in 2007, she was healing a dislocated shoulder and couldn’t throw overhand. Since she had problems transferring her credit hours, she had to sit out last year, but it allowed her shoulder to heal and gave Mort time to see her hit as well as pitch.

“It was like I was fresh all over again,” Jordan said. “It worked out well.”

Jordan made the All-RMAC team and the All-RMAC Tournament team last week.

She leads the team in home runs (12), RBI (46), earned run average (2.93), wins (13), innings pitched (138 2/3) and is second in batting average (.394).

“(Jordan) is a great hitter,” Mort said. “I usually don’t let pitchers hit and she’s as good of a hitter as we have in the lineup. She is a good student and kid. We needed depth on the pitching staff. She has a great ERA and is second team All-Conference.”

More importantly, Jordan provides depth to the pitching staff with Jessica Rayman, Cierra Lard and Alicia Neuschwanger.

That helped Mesa State (27-19) get its first NCAA Division II tournament berth since 2002.

The Mavericks are the No. 7 seed in the Central Region and face No. 2 seed and tournament host Metro State (40-10) at noon Friday at Regis University. Metro’s field didn’t meet NCAA requirements for hosting a regional tournament.

This is the first year the NCAA has a new format for the 16 regional sites. Four teams will compete in the double-elimination tournaments with the winners advancing to the Super Regional May 15-16.

No. 3 seed Colorado School of Mines (37-16) will play No. 6 seed CSU-Pueblo (29-18) in the same bracket as Metro and Mesa.

The winner will play the survivor of the other half of the Central bracket in the Super Regional.

No. 1 seed Winona State (Minn.) University (41-11) hosts No. 8 Southwest Minnesota State (31-21), No. 4 Wayne State (Neb.) College and No. 5 Minnesota State-Mankato.

Rayman has benefited from the addition of Jordan to the team.

“It’s awesome for the team,” Rayman said. “It allows us to do so much. She comes up clutch at the plate and is an all-around good player.”

Rayman (9-6, 5.50 ERA) made the All-RMAC tournament team, pitching the Mavericks into the championship game against Metro, which likely pushed Mesa into the NCAA tournament.

The Mavs were ranked 10th in the region heading into the RMAC tournament with eight teams getting an NCAA bid.

“Jessica has been in the shadows her entire time here,” Mort said. “I couldn’t ask for a better performance (last weekend). Our success is in large part because of Jessica Rayman.”


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