Angelina College celebrates National Championship with pep rally, surprise graduation

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Surreal, historical, and monumental are just a few words that Angelina College head softball coach Mark Mattson had to say about the experience of bringing Angelina their first ever national championship.

The prestigious title has come quick for a coach who has only been with the program 2 years.

The Lady Roadrunners had a slow start with a 13-9 record at one point, but Mattson never lost faith that his first recruiting class could do great things.

"Did we think we were going to be this good? Yea, definitely," said Mattson.

Besides the obvious athletic talent of the group, there was more to this team that they said got them to this point.

"When you look each one of these kids in the eyes, you know that they care about you. They know that we care about them more than just as a player, and all that and that sums up our team, family," said Mattson.

The last out in clinching the title came from shortstop Sage Martinez, who caught a pop fly in a game changing moment.

"The bases were loaded with 2 out in the top of the 7th, the pop fly came up to me and I knew it was up to me to catch it," said Martinez.

Once the catch was made, the celebration was on.

"When I made the catch, everyone came up to me and started crying and we knew we were national champs," said Martinez. "I wanted to win it for my team, and everyone worked together. I'm glad my team was there to back me up. It was awesome I got the last catch. It was the best catch of my life."

"When she caught it, it was mayhem to be honest," said Mattson. "The emotions came from the back of your head, to the front of your head fast."

All while the team was chasing national titles, back at Angelina College students walked the stage for graduation.

Sophomore catcher, Tessa Thomas, was competing during graduation weekend, but the school made sure to make up for the experience she missed.

In front of her teammates and spectators, the school president mocked a graduation. With a stage set up, and gown ready, Thomas walked the stage graduating with a 4.0.

"I felt really special. I didn't know they were going to do that. It was a complete surprise and it was great," said Thomas. "The girls, they mean everything to me. We're like a family, we really are. It was really great to have them there for that, so it was really special."

After a 39 hour, "historical" trip they call it to the tournament, and one graduation celebration later, your Lady Roadrunners have been crowned the 2014 Junior College National Champions.

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