The Grand Canyon University club softball team is a national championship contender even without being a regional champion.
The Lopes enter this weekend’s National Club Softball Association World Series as the No. 9 seed, having lost twice by one run to No. 2 national seed and Pacific Region champion California-Davis.
“I think winning it is totally doable,” GCU head coach Lindsey Collins said. “I do see my girls totally going all the way. They’ve been working super hard and I think they’re ready mentally.”
The Lopes will find out in a hurry because it opens World Series pool play Friday morning in Columbus, Ga., against the No. 1 seed, Clemson. GCU also will play Ohio State and Iowa State in Friday’s pool play before the 16-team field is re-seeded for a 16-team, double-elimination tournament on Saturday and Sunday.
The Lopes could play up to 11 games if they reach the championship.
Since GCU’s spring semester ended, the team’s 17 players remained on campus and bonded by moving in together, practicing more frequently and having nightly team dinners.
“This is huge for GCU but even bigger for them to experience it,” Collins said. “Their vibe is excited. It’s kind of surreal at this point.”
Collins has a unique look for opponents with left-handed pitcher Alex Burcham and right-handed pitcher Annamarie Cassidy rotating within games. The Lopes also feature a strong outfield with juniors Mel Lopez and Bobbi Fry and freshman Jaden Palmer.
“This is the strongest outfield that I’ve had in coaching,” Collins said. “They are able to cover a lot of the outfield. They throw out girls all the time at home. It’s fun to watch. I love when people try to run on them and they gun them out.”
James Madison is the NCSA World Series’ two-time defending champion. This year’s tournament also includes Arkansas State, Delaware, Florida State, Grand Valley State, Illinois, Northeastern, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Sacred Heart and Virginia Tech.