This time around for VC grad Emily Trahan, Delcambre grad Jaci Trahan and Kaplan grad Terrisita Vallery, things are a little different.
“Last year I split games with another third baseman. This year I split games a little, but lately I’ve been playing every game,” said Jaci. “At first I felt there was no team that could have the chemistry that our team had last year. But, now I can’t believe I ever thought that. When we get on the field, it’s not about us it’s about the team.”
“Coming to a junior college, the first year you’re new and then the next year it’s like you’re a senior,” she said. “You have to take on a leadership role... But, at regionals we really stepped it up at the right time.
“This year we have to have confidence in ourselves to get it done whereas last year we had confidence in our sophomores.”
Vallery confessed, though, that to her, there’s nothing like the first time.
“I’m going to be honest,” she said. “I’ll never feel how I felt when we won it the first time.
“Having to work our way out of the loser’s bracket last year really pumped us up. But, if we win, I know it’s still going to be a great feeling.”
Emily said things are just more comfortable this time around.
“The national tournament was an easier route for us than regionals last year,” she said. “We lost early and we had to come back and win three games on the last day (to advance). They were all close games.”
LSUE (53-9) clinched a second-consecutive Region III title with a 4-0 defeat of Jones County JC last week in the 2012 regional finale.
The Lady Bengals enter the NJCAA Division II National Tournament as the number-one seed and are set to play 16th-ranked East Central CC (28-30), out of Mississippi, on Thursday at 9:30 a.m.
The National Tournament, held in Clinton, Miss., is double elimination. The championship of the 16-team tourney is set for Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
Emily, a catcher for LSUE, is batting .407 with 15 RBIs and 7 runs scored.
She has a .990 fielding percentage behind the plate.
Jaci is batting .323 with three doubles and a triple. She has 18 RBIs and 22 runs scored.
Jaci has a .919 fielding percentage at the hot corner.
Vallery has had to take on an unexpected role this season.
In the fall, she tore her ACL during practice while fielding a ball from her outfield position. She required surgery and has been granted a medical red shirt for this season.
She will play again at LSUE next year.
Vallery said it has been tough to watch the Lady Bengals success from the dugout, but that she has tried to be supportive.
“I’m not going to be selfish just because I can’t play. I’m still going to support my team,” she said. “Whether it’s cheering or whatever I can do, that’s just how I am.”
Emily and Jaci said Vallery’s role has been indispensable.
“Terri’s a very positive person,” said Jaci. “She comes to practice every day. She’s loud and she’s the best cheerer we have. I think she understands that that’s what we need from her. She keeps us in the game.”
Emily and Jaci, the best of friends since age ten, have been roomates since their time at LSUE began. They met playing travel softball when they were kids.
After this season, the two will part ways for the first time in nearly a decade. Jaci is heading to UL-Alexandria to continue her pursuit of a degree in pre-pharmacy (via biology) and to play softball.
“We’ve been friends since we were ten,” said Jaci. “I guess it’s just time to move on. I’ll miss her.”
Emily will head to UL-Monroe in the fall to continue her education in biology. She also will continue playing softball.
“They saw me play last year in the World Series,” she said. “They called me... I went on a visit and decided it was my best bet and decided to go.”
Emily said she will go to physical therapy school after ULM.
Though Vallery and the two Trahans have only really gotten to know each other since they began their college careers, the three Vermilion Parish natives all said they have become very close.
Vallery is pursuing a degree in kinesiology and wants to get into coaching.
She is the daughter of Tomasita Vallery of Kaplan and the granddaughter of Carolyn Henderson of Abbeville.
Jaci is the daughter of Nicole and Kurt Trahan of Delcambre.
Emily is the daughter of Gina and Pat Trahan of Cow Island.