TIFTON—Riding the wave of a 10-game winning streak including a sweep of the state tournament, the Golden Fillies of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College tackle the College of Central Florida Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. EDT in the first round of the National Junior College Athletic Association national softball tournament in St. George, Utah.
"The top seeds have all the pressure," ABAC Coach Jennifer Walls said. "We are the underdogs. Let's go out, upset some teams, and have some fun. We just need to build on the momentum of the state tournament."
ABAC, now 47-14 on the season, enters the double elimination 16-team national tournament as the #15 seed. The College of Central Florida is seeded #2. Seminole (Okla.) State is the top seed.
"We played the College of Central Florida in our first tournament in January," Walls said. "We know what to expect from them but they don't know what to expect from us. We are a totally different team than we were in January."
Behind the heroics of Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association Player of the Year Taylor Layfield, ABAC blitzed the state tournament field with wins over East Georgia (2-1), top seeded Georgia Military (5-3) and then another win over Georgia Military (8-0) in the title game.
Layfield, a freshman from Sylvester, was also named the state tournament MVP. She carries a .418 batting average with 12 home runs, 39 runs batted in, and an on-base percentage of .517 into national tournament play.
With a 17-8 record on the mound, Layfield packs quite a one-two pitching punch with her teammate, Samantha Davis, who was 16-5 on the hill. Walls hasn't decided which one of her star pitchers will get the call on Wednesday night.
"They faced Sam Davis back in January so they haven't seen Taylor," Walls said. "We are still deciding on that. I feel confident that either one of them can get the job done."
Walls, in her fourth year as the ABAC coach, said the Fillies are in national tournament competition for the first time since 2002. ABAC has never won a national fast-pitch title but has three national slow-pitch championships to its credit in 1991, 1995, and 1996.