Arizona Western eyes return of NJCAA DI JUCO National Softball tournament in 2025
A lucky feather aids in a FSW repeat while volunteers and staff pull of a successful two year span at the PAAC.
YUMA, Ariz. ( KYMA, KECY-TV ) - "It's kind of a superstitious thing," Florida Southwestern State softball head coach Robert Iamurri said. "I really don't go look for one."
Iamurri was referring to the feather in his ballcap.
"All of the sudden a kid picked it up and I said hey, I haven't done this this year yet," Iamurri said. "We picked the feather up for a little bit of luck. My coach said are you going to take the feather out now that we got beat?"
The defending national champions had just lost to Odessa in walk off fashion in the bottom of the seventh inning. In order to repeat as national champions at the Pacific Avenue Athletic Complex in Yuma, they'd have to run the table.
"I said hell no, we're not done," Iamurri said. "We're in the loser's bracket, the feather is still good, we're still alive and surviving."
True to Coach Iamurri's word, his Buccaneers were not done. In their first game in the loser's bracket they came from behind to defeat Yavapai in extra inning 10-9. Then hung on to defeat Chattanooga State 7-6 the following day. The Buccaneers followed that with yet another come from behind win against Odessa in the semi-finals 5-4, catapulting Florida Southwestern back into the championship against McClennan. The defending champions needed to win twice and they did just that. Taking game one 4-2 and then 7-6 in game two to win the national championship the hard way. Florida Southwestern became the first team to win back to back national titles since Butler in 2016 & 2017.
"We've enjoyed Yuma," Coach Iamurri said. "They've been a great host both years, friendly people and an exciting place to visit."
After two years of hosting the national tournament it now moved to Oxnard, Alabama for 2023 & 2024. Arizona Western and the city of Yuma plan to bid on the tournament again in hopes of having the tournament return in 2025.
"The crowds from the teams were outstanding," Arizona Western College Athletic Director Jerry Smith said. "He had nothing but great comments about not only the tournament, the park, but the way they were treated in the hotels, the way they were treated in the restaurants."
Smith said he's most proud of the big economic impact the tournament brought into the city of Yuma.
"He had people staying in hotels and eating in restaurants and shopping in our stores in town," Smith said. "I just think it's something that is good for our community, good for our college and we were really excited to have it here in Yuma."
Putting on a tournament of this caliber took a lot of planning, a lot of hours and a lot of help from volunteers.
"We get to do a whole lot of different jobs in a week," Arizona Western assistant men's basketball coach Carter Roe said. "A lot of work goes into it but we reap all the benefits too. There's a lot of great people and the competition has been great. While there is a lot of work in putting on a national tournament, it's a great time. It's great for all of us to be involved and it's a blessing. We love it and before you know it, it's gone just like that."
Arizona Western college used it's television crew along with local play by play volunteers to broadcast every game of the five day event on national television.
"Our TV crew is the best," Smith said. "Whenever we need them they are there for us. Plus our play by play announcer Scott Gross, Cole Johnson , Michael Broskowski and Jim Howell who've worked with us along with Derek Diesner. It's just so exciting to see those people excited about softball here."
"It's a year long project," Smith said. "We'll bid again a year from this summer to host the '25 and '26. From our sponsors in the community, to our volunteers and our tv crew. I mean this tournament is streamed all over the United States. It's just exciting for people to be able to see our community and what we have to offer here in Yuma."