The UM Falcons defeated the University of West Alabama Tigers 6-5, and then 9-8 in their inaugural home game. Photo by Katie Compton.
On Saturday, Jan. 31, a crowd of more than a thousand people entered Orr Park to welcome the University of Montevallo’s first ever softball team. Spectators and fans showed from all over the country to cheer and observe as the Falcons played and won both of their first ever games against the University of West Alabama Tigers.
It was one of the year’s most stunning days, with a bright blue sky and crisp cool air warmed just enough by the sun. The recently completed stadium bleachers were filled with little room to move about. Nearly half the crowd had to stand or sit in bleachers outside the stadium if they wanted to watch the game. Some spectators even sat in trees. Many of the people watching were not just direct affiliates of the university, but also members of the greater Montevallo town community.
To start the day off, University president, Dr. John Stewart dedicated the field to the University of Montevallo and threw the first pitch to get the game going.
After making his way to his seat in the stands, Stewart commented on his expectations for the day. “I am so excited to finally welcome the softball team to our school. I have butterflies in my stomach as I wait to watch their first game against West Alabama. I know they will do their best and make me proud,” said Stewart.
Jostlyn Higgerson was the starting pitcher for Montevallo, striking out West Alabama’s Lydia North as the first to bat on the new field. The Falcons won their first game in history 6-5, scoring the point that put them in the lead in the bottom half of the seventh inning.
Their second game was another close match, with the Falcons winning again, 9-8. Jana Armstrong was the starting pitcher. The Falcons trailed by two points toward the end of the game but were able to get the necessary runs for their victory from Jessica Mentzer, Kelsey Vining and Shelby Clark. Mentzer did not go to bat in the first game, but made up for lost time with her two home runs.
After winning their first game, Falcons third baseman Lexes Wilson left the dugout with her team to talk with friends and family about the first win. “I am just so proud of my team. Some people said we wouldn’t be able to win because we are a first-year team, but we proved them wrong. We have what it takes and Coach Vanover is proud of the outcome. She believed in us from the start, and all our hard work is paying off,” Wilson said.
In the stands, during the games, several new recruits for next year’s softball team sat and watched with their families. One mom, Susan Hall, mentioned her amazement at the community support. “I have never seen anything quite like it. It’s like a storybook. I am proud to know this is what my daughter will be a part of next year,” said Hall.
Falcons head coach Lindsay Vanover also shared her take on the game. “These girls have worked so hard for this moment, for these wins. I could not be more proud to celebrate their effort, or to start our first season with two wins,” Vanover said. “I am so thankful for all the support we have received from the community and look forward to making them proud,“ she said.
The softball team has their season schedule posted on the web at Montevallofalcons.com. Their next two games will be in Columbus, GA on Feb. 15.