JUCO SOFTBALL

Clark has banner year in the circle for Lions

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Former Cordova Blue Devil pitching standout Raven Clark had a season to remember for the Wallace State Lions, which saw her post one of the top ERAs in the country.

In 25 appearances and 72 innings pitched, Clark had an ERA of 0.97 — which ranked first in the Alabama Community College Conference and second nationally, giving up just 10 earned runs on the year.

She finished with a record of 11-1, with 51 strikeouts and only 16 walks.

Clark attributes her improvement in the circle to direction from her head coach, A.J. Daugherty and his dedication to seeing the Lions succeed.

“Coach Daugherty instructs all of our pitchers to keep the ball low so no one can touch it. In high school, I always left like I had a problem keeping the ball up — since I’ve been in college, I realize that you can’t do that as you’ll get hit really hard,” Clark said. “Going into this year, I knew I had to work on getting the ball lower. Three times a week and on my own, we worked on that, and it worked out extremely well as the season went on.”

Wallace State secured its 13th ACCC championship and third under Daugherty, finishing with a 55-6 record, as well as making an appearance at the NJCAA Division I National Championship, advancing to the quarterfinals and finishing among the top eight teams in the country.

The trip to the NJCAA World Series in Yuma, Ariz., and competing for a national title was a thrilling experience for Clark, one that she attributes to a dream coming true.

“You dream of it as a little girl taking those first throws in the circle and not really believing it’s going to happen to you — until it actually does,” Clark said. “Getting to go out there and being part of a great group of ladies competing for a national championship in and of itself was amazing. Things didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but he had a great time and played hard with everyone out there.”

With her two years at Wallace State finalized, Clark cites her parents, Brandy and Jason Clark, for providing key motivation and support, as well as her coaches on the Lions’ staff.

“My Mom and Dad have been so important in every part of my life — at Wallace it was no different as they were my biggest fans and were pushing me to do my best. My freshman year was very tough as I was away from home for the first time and when I was struggling. They were there to lift me up and push me to keep going,” Clark said. “Coach Daugherty and Coach Cadi Oliver really bought in to all of us and pushed us to be our best in the weightroom, on the field and off of it.”