In her playing career at shortstop, Charles, who went by Casey Bourgoyne at the time, was a three-time All-Gulf South Conference selection. She played a key role in DSU going to its first ever NCAA Playoff appearance as the team went to the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament in 2002 with a 42-17 record.
Twelve years later, Charles gets a chance to return to the region in the green-and-white and this time she is the head coach of the Lady Statesmen.
Delta State currently has a record of 30-29 and enters the South Region 2 Tournament in Tampa, Fla. as a No. 7 seed. The Lady Statesmen will have a tough test tonight as they take on the second seeded Tampa University Spartans (31-6, No. 7 in NFCA Poll) at 6 p.m. EST/5 p.m. CST in first round action.
When the selection show took place, the Lady Statesmen were in a classroom on the DSU campus. Charles said the announcement of DSU going to the region brought back some fond memories.
“I remember this very day that year, and I was reminded of it this morning,” Charles said Monday. “We sat in a classroom with our group, and we watched it and it was exciting. I remember doing that from this very building 12 years ago for the first time in program history. It’s been 12 years since that happened. Speaking personally, I’m thankful to have been apart of both of those. Coach David Kuhn was here when we went to the first one and now I’m going to this one. I’m glad to be a part of it the second time.”
The 30 wins Delta State has is the most in Charles’ six-year tenure as head coach of the team.
In most years, 30-29 is good enough to say you had a winning season while being on the outside looking into the NCAA Playoffs. This year, the Lady Statesmen were able to slide into the tournament thanks to a schedule that has been rated as the second toughest in the South Region.
The Gulf South Conference alone features two of the highest ranked teams in the nation in the latest National Fastpitch Coaches Association Poll.
Alabama Huntsville is ranked No. 8 in the nation, while Valdosta State is ranked No. 16 nationally. Delta State holds a win over Huntsville during the regular season, and a win over Valdosta State in the conference tournament. DSU finished third in the GSC Tournament with a 3-2 record and is 16-11 over its last 27 games.
Valdosta State and Huntsville battled each other in the GSC Title game with Valdosta winning. DSU’s first opponent, Tampa, is currently fifth in the nation and finished tied for first in the Sunshine State Conference with Rollins during the regular season. Tonight’s showdown will put DSU against a nationally ranked team for a third straight game.
Charles felt the committee understood how many good teams DSU had to face this season.
“What we know to be true is that it’s a testament to how tough our conference and region are,” Charles said about the team’s region berth. “I believe this team deserves to be there, and they wouldn’t have let us go if that wasn’t true.”
DSU has been blessed to have a lot of exceptional players. Sophomore outfielder Kassidy Tally went 9-for-16 in the GSC Tournament with nine stolen bases to up her GSC record-setting total to 70, which also leads the nation. Tally’s production in the GSC Tournament pushed her average to .356 with a team-leading 60 runs scored. She has a 12-game hitting streak heading into the tournament.
Junior infielder Amber Adcock also had a great GSC Tournament as she went 7-for-16 with three home runs and 10 RBIs to push her batting average up .325. Adcock currently leads the team in home runs (8) and is second in RBIs (47).
Sophomore first baseman/outfielder Kaitlin Moore is still DSU’s top hitter as she leads the team in batting average (.377), RBIs (60) and hits (75). She also has two home runs.
Sophomore rightfielder Mariah Alvarez has been solid as she is hitting a cool .352 with 36 RBIs in 48 games. The last time Alvarez’s average was below .340 was on Mar. 2 when she was hitting .320 after an 0-for-2 performance against Valdosta State.
Sophomore centerfielder Memrie Corley (.331 avg., 8 RBIs, 31 runs), junior infielder Taylor Holland (.303 avg., 23 RBIs, 25 runs), junior third baseman Brook Cline (.287 avg., 4 HR, 17 RBIs, 20 runs), freshman catcher Madison Zoeller (.263 avg., 1 HR, 32 RBIs) and junior shortstop/designated hitter Andre Cutts (.244 avg., 2 HR, 27 RBIs) anchor the rest of DSU’s line-up. As a team, the Lady Statesmen are hitting .312 as a team and are scoring an average of 4.9 runs a game. Adcock and Tally were named to the GSC All-Tournament team. Moore was named first-team All-GSC, while Corley, Alvarez, Tally and Holland were named second team All-GSC this year.
Pitching wise, senior Miller Maddox (9-9, 5.28 ERA, 11 CG) and freshman Taylor Tucker (11-11, 4.58 ERA, 12 CG) have anchored the starting rotation with Moore (2-1, 2.77 ERA, 1 CG) and freshman Macie Wilde (8-8, 4.70 ERA, 7 CG) pitching when needed. Maddux was named to the GSC All-Tournament team.
“As a team, they’re just rising to the occasion,” Charles said. “Even the ones in the dugout are playing a viable role. They’re staying excited and cheering on the team. Everybody has a part, and everybody is doing something. We’re doing it right at the right time.”
For Tampa, pitching has been the story. The Lady Spartans have given up just 37 total runs and lead the nation in team earned run average with a 0.65 ERA. Julia Morrow (15-3, 0.49 ERA, 11 CG, 114.1 IP, 44 H, 177 SO, 22 BB) and Kayla Cox (16-3, 0.78 ERA, 14 CG, 144.1 IP, 69 H, 193 SO, 33 BB) have been lights out as they are No. 1 and No. 3 respectively in the nation in ERA.
In the other games today, third seeded Valdosta State and sixth seeded Palm Beach Atlantic will battle at 3 p.m. EST/2 p.m. CST. The tournament is set to last through Sunday. The winner of this tournament will take on the winner of the South Region 1 Tournament featuring UA-Huntsville (No. 1 seed), Rollins (No. 4 seed), North Alabama (No. 5 seed) and Tuskegee (No. 8 seed) in the super region on May 16.
Charles said the biggest thing for the Lady Statesmen now is to continue to produce at region.
“The goal for them has always been to get there,” Charles said. “For us now, the goal is to do something once you get there. We’re going to tell them, it’s not over, it’s not done, we’re not satisfied, we’re not stopping.
“We have our work cut out for us, but our level of competition lately has been as good as it’s ever been. It’s postseason time, and it’s time to step up.”