A-State Powers Duo Look Forward to Third Softball World Series
JONESBORO — Since she was five years old, Mackenzie Powers has played softball. It’s a sport she loves. And, what has made it the best experience for her is the fact that her father, Chris Powers, has always been her coach. That hasn’t changed.
Now that Mackenzie is a senior at Arkansas State University, her softball career has come full-circle as she and the Red Wolf team prepare for their third straight 2015 National Club Softball Association (NCSA) World Series appearance, Friday through Sunday, May 15-17, in Columbus, Georgia.
“I’ve played softball for 18 years,” said Powers, a fifth-year senior at A-State. “And, my dad has been my coach throughout that time. It’s great. Now, we’re going back to the World Series for the third time. Everyone is so excited.”
The coach and Mackenzie’s father concurs and is especially proud to see his team and his daughter reach this milestone.
“As a coach, it's really not any different than coaching any other player,” said Chris. “I'm harder on her and expect more from her. But, over the years I've learned—on the field, I have to treat her equal to all the other players. As a father, I'm very proud of her success. She has put a lot of time and work into it.”
Mackenzie’s time with the Red Wolves began after transferring from Arkansas Tech University to A-State. The Paragould native learned from a friend about Arkansas State’s softball program. She had previously considered quitting the game, but decided to give it another shot. And, her father agreed to coach the team on a volunteer basis.
“I love it at Arkansas State,” she continued. “I am from Paragould so I was thrilled when I transferred back home and heard they were starting the club ball program. I grew up down the road so I played ball in the area my entire life. But, Arkansas State never had an NCAA program.
“I get asked a lot why would I leave an NCAA program to come to a program with no money offered and barely getting started. For me, it wasn't about the money; it was about coming back to my home here in northeast Arkansas and finishing my career with the girls I have played with my whole life.”
Mackenzie went on to explain the success of the team evolves from the players, and they make her a better leader and ball player by providing support for each other.
“A-State’s program is four years old and we’ve won three conference championships and made three trips to the World Series,” continued Mackenzie. “I felt nervous and a little scared the first year, but I feel more confident this year.”
The players have every reason to be confident. They own an overall record of 24-6; are ranked No. 1 in the nation; and won the Mid-America East conference title with a perfect 12-0 mark for the second consecutive season. This team is also seeded first in the national tournament. Not bad for a program that only started in 2011.
After sweeping the competition at a key regional tournament two weekends ago in Kansas, Mackenzie pointed out the A-State club sport is not limited to playing other club teams. Arkansas State knocked off Kansas and Air Force, both nationally ranked NCAA programs.
“Winning regionals put us one more step to our team goal of winning a national championship,” said Chris. “We are finally coming together and peaking at the right time. Hopefully, we can carry this momentum with us down to Georgia.”
“All of us are ecstatic to be going back to the World Series. For the seniors, we are ready to seek revenge after our last two years of bad luck,” Mackenzie said. “After doing so well in regionals, and being the only team to go undefeated in their region, we are preparing for the World Series with our heads held high. Then again, we know it won't be easy, so we are preparing with hard work and determination to bring home the national championship.
“We are doing something big here with this program. Another reason I do what I do is to give young girls the opportunity I was given right here in their hometown. Arkansas State has some amazing programs here on campus for students to get a great education and do what they love. I couldn't imagine going to any other school. I love my school and love our club ball program, and it makes me so proud to see us succeed and all of our hard work show.”
Chris notes his satisfaction to see the success of the growing program.
“We struggled in the beginning for players and games. It's just gotten bigger and better every year. The support from the university, the administration and the local community has been overwhelming the past couple years. The success of the program is very dependent on all those.
“I feel good going into the tournament,” Chris added. “This is our third straight year and I think from a coaching and player standpoint, we have a good understanding of what it's going to take to win it.
“Practice has been good with a lot of energy and excitement. I really think we're ready.”
# # #