By Anthony Gagliano
The accomplishments of the Lynn University softball team under first-year coach Thomas Macera have been staggering. The former VSU assistant and Dasher resident led the Fighting Knights of Boca Raton, Fla., to their first conference and region titles.
But, the team truly left its mark in history on Monday, defeating Kennesaw State 5-3 to win the NCAA Division II national championship in Salem, Va. Macera made it back-to-back national championships after guiding Thomas University to the NAIA title last season.
"Not to take away from Thomas, but this is so much bigger and better," said Macera, who is believed to be the first coach to win softball titles at two different levels in back-to-back seasons.
He took over the Fighting Knights (54-7) this year to remarkable results. The team produced the first three All-Americans in the program's nine-year history and won the title game thanks to three home runs, part of 88 on the season. It's the second best total in NCAA Division II history and testament to Macera's philosophy, gleaned from Arizona and Olympic coach Mike Candrea. Christina Rolla led the Knights with 25 homers, also second all-time in Division II history, and more than twice as many as she had last season.
"I have a different way of teaching hitting, but obviously, it's proven," Macera said.
The team failed to lose during the double-elimination region and national tournaments, just the third team to do so. No one had scored on Lynn in their first three games of the World Series, including No. 1 Northern Kentucky, which had its 55-game winning streak snapped by the Knights 1-0 on Sunday. Lynn beat Player of the Year Krystal Lewallen in that game, one of two All-Americans to suffer such a fate in the Knights' amazing World Series run.
"People called us a doormat all year and said we'd fall on our face," Macera said. "Even our first night here, they said we were an average team that wouldn't be here in two games. And we went out, kicked tail and did it handily."
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