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PJC Softball Goes To NJCAA National Tournament

No. 14 Paris Junior College defeated No. 3 Wallace State, 7-5, during the opening round of the 2022 #NJCAASoftball DI Championship. Jaycie Hall struck out eight from the circle for the win! Next up is Central Florida at 6:00 pm CT Wednesday with the Dragons, the home team.

At the National Junior College Athletic Association Region XIV Tournament held May 13-16 at San Jacinto College in Houston, Paris Junior College Softball lost the first game against their host 4-1. The team gave up four unearned runs in one inning. However, the team’s excellent rebound sent them to Yuma, Arizona, for the National Tournament.

“I thought our girls were really upset about that afterward, and I could tell that they really wanted to win,” said PJC Softball Coach Shelby Shelton. “I think that they believed that we could have won had we executed and made plays. That’s where the confidence and the belief that we could compete with every single team there started and that’s what we did for the rest of the tournament.”

“That first game was like a punch in the face,” said freshman pitcher Jaycie Hall. “We were all devastated when we left the field. We had our backs against the wall, and Macy led us in prayers, and we went forward for the sophomores.”

That determination led to a four-game streak that secured PJC the Region XIV Mid-South B slot at the NJCAA National Tournament starting Tuesday, May 24, in Yuma, Arizona. Saturday, the team won against Blinn College 5-0, and on Sunday won over Navarro College 3-2 and Angelina College 1-0.

“We all did a great job,” said sophomore pitcher Stephanie Chico. “Everything came together. Pitching-wise, I was a little nervous going in, but all I wanted to focus on was my team, and I just knew that we all had each other’s back. The community is so supportive of us in everything.”

“In the Angelina game, Jaycie said she didn’t care if she had to pitch 14 innings. She wanted to win that game,” said freshman catcher Lexi Dodson. “Her competitive spirit really helped us and made us want to fight through along with her.”

Monday, they were slated to take on Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC), a team that had won all their contests in the past two years. PJC beat BPCC 5-2 to join Region XIV Mid South A representative San Jacinto College at the National Tournament.

“As soon as we lost that first game, we had this different determination and momentum,” said freshman utility player Macy Richardson. “We just knew we were going to go all the way through. That last pitch when Jaycie struck that girl out in the Bossier game; it just hit me like wow, we actually did it. Going to the national tournament means even more to me and Jaycie because we’re hometown, and it’s only been done once before, in 2013. It’s so amazing playing for Paris, and it means so much more to you because it is your hometown and your home college team.”

“I thought it was absolutely insane,” said sophomore infielder Hannah Schnettler. “Just going out there as the underdog, losing our first game, and coming back and winning four straight games. I’m super proud of the team because I’m sure nobody had faith in us to beat Bossier Parish because we had lost to them eight times in a row in the past two years. For me, that was really personal. That was my favorite moment when I got that hit, between third base and shortstop.” 

Shelton said there were many performances where players stepped up with big-time moments, and many different people made game-changing plays.

“We had several two-out base hits and some huge at-bats,” Shelton said. “Lexi Dodson drew a walk against Bossier Parish. Hannah Schnettler got the hit with two outs. We had several great plays on defense; Macy Richardson was phenomenal at second base.

“Our pitching staff was phenomenal,” Shelton said. “Jaycie Hall was unbelievable; she just wasn’t going to let us lose. If she had anything to say about it, she was going to give her all. Stephanie Chico got the win against Navarro, and that was a really big game for us. She did a really good job of pitching that game and giving Jaycie a break.”

“I was here last year, and we only won one game at the regional tournament,” said sophomore infielder Jayda Carter. “It was so surreal; I still can’t believe it happened. My favorite moment was the Bossier game because everything changed when Lexi had a great at-bat and Hannah followed up, and it was truly a team effort. As a kid, you want to go to the World Series, and I can say that I’m going to Nationals.”

Shelton also praised PJC Assistant Softball Coach Kylie Shay.

“She did a tremendous job with Chico and Jaycie during the weekend. She called the pitches in high-stress situations, and I thought she did a fabulous job. There were times she would look back at me and say, ‘Coach, what do you think?’ and I would say, ‘I don’t know, Coach, go with what you think,’ and she was always right. I was glad she was the one doing it; she did a good job.”

“We have a different level of determination because we came from this town [Paris], and we want to make our community proud,” Hall said. “We’re on a whole different level. We want to win not only for the team, the coaches, and the whole school – it’s for the community. Lexi stepped up a lot and helped me, and the whole team stepped up; you have to have defense, and you have to have a catcher. They don’t get a whole lot of recognition, and that last week was phenomenal. I expected nothing less from this team. So we really just need to keep this same mindset going to Arizona, and we’ll do the same thing.”

“I’m super excited,” Schnettler said of the national tournament. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience. Personally, I’ve never gotten this far in any type of softball tournament or team. It’s going to be hot, but it’ll be so worth it; great memories.”

Number 14 seed PJC plays number three seed Wallace State Community College at 6:00 pm local time Tuesday, May 24.

The NJCAA National Division I Softball Tournament landing page is at https://bit.ly/3MFevWb. Go to https://bit.ly/3Nt6sMb to download the bracket in pdf format. Live stats for the first PJC Softball game (5) at the National Tournament is at https://bit.ly/3lzbOcK, and the page counts down to the actual game time.

The streaming game schedule (paid viewing) is at https://bit.ly/3aizT5j. First, select the DI game, not a DII game. Then, click the gold icon in the corner and go to the payment page for access.

Another way to keep up with PJC games is to go to www.parisjc.edu/athletics, then choose Softball Schedule from the menu to find out game times and opponents.