The GCU club softball team has been playing at the top of its field this season so it deserved games on a top field.
The Lopes club softball team played doubleheaders at the new GCU Softball Stadium on Thursday and Friday, dropping four closely contested games to junior college programs from Montana and Minnesota.
GCU opened the first phase of the stadium on Feb. 10. The club players saw it being built and watched other games there but never had been inside the spacious dugouts or felt the new FieldTurf surface.
“I think that’s every softball player’s dream — to go to a legit field and a NCAA field,” said GCU first-year coach Lindsey Collins, who played for a NCAA championship team at Arizona. “They walked in and they were like, ‘Oh my.’ It was a like a surreal moment.
“I even felt it. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I got all my feelings back. I want to play. Give me a uniform.’ This field is absolutely beautiful and brings out the best in you.”
The Lopes led their first stadium game into the seventh inning Thursday night but gave up two runs to lose to Dawson Community College. They lost 9-8 and 4-2 to Dawson from Montana and 11-7 and 8-2 on Friday to Dakota County Tech of the Minneapolis area.
“It was really nice to play on campus and have people we know come and watch,” said GCU shortstop Bri Gainer, a junior from Parma, Ohio, who had three hits Friday. “It was a good experience all-around, being on the field, the fans, the music. The whole atmosphere was different.”
The Lopes (9-6) have dominated the National Club Softball Association Pacific Region’s South Conference, sweeping UCLA, USC and NAU. In the program’s second year, the Lopes have goals to reach the NCSA World Series in Georgia next month.
“We play much better when expectations are higher,” Collins said. “It’s nice that I know my girls can step up to my expectations. They exceeded my expectations (against Dawson).”