Alaska’s ‘Slam Sisters’ catapult LaTech to C-USA championship

May 14, 2017

Taria Page Pauline Tufi softball

Page [33], teammates mob Tufi

With one swing, Anchorage’s Pauline Tufi erased a decade of frustration for the Louisiana Tech softball program.

The senior first baseman crushed a solo home run in the seventh inning to supply a 1-0 victory over Florida International and catapult the Lady Techsters to the school’s first Conference USA championship since 2008.

“To hit that home run for my team was a dream come true,” Tufi told me. “To be honest, I whispered ‘For my Family and God’ right before I entered the box, then boom, God blessed me with a home run.

LaTech had lost nine straight games to Florida International, including four in the last week. Not this time, though. Not after Tufi lined a 1-1 pitch over the centerfield fence.

With the win, LaTech punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008.

“I was so emotional running the bases and then seeing my team freak out at the plate for me, then with me, was the best feeling ever,” Tufi said.

Teammate Taria Page of Anchorage – the LaTech starting designated hitter – knew it was gone off the bat.

“We all creeped out of the dugout and when it landed on the other side we lost our minds,” Page told me. “To be a part of that moment was the best feeling ever. Nobody deserve that moment more than Tufi because she works the hardest and overcomes all controversy.”

Pauline Tufi softball

Pauline Tufi

Tufi, of West High fame, picked up the MVP trophy after batting .429 [6-for-14] with four doubles, a home run and six RBIs in the five games.

Tufi has eight home runs this year and 35 for her career, which is the most for a NCAA D1 player from Alaska and breaks a tie with Anchorage’s Lillian Bullock, who hit 34 for North Carolina A&T from 2008 to 2011.

This home run might have been her favorite since it brought so much joy to her team.

“The best feeling ever was celebrating with the team after Krystal struck out the final batter to end the game,” Tufi said. “To be the C-USA champions is an honor. To represent ourselves, each other, our coaches, and family and ultimately God is an honor.”

Taria Page softball

Taria Page

Page, of East High fame, started all five games of the conference tournament and finished 3-for-15 at the plate with two RBIs.

The sophomore slugger leads LaTech in RBIs [39] and on-base percentage [.493] and ranks second in slugging percentage [.538]. She has four home runs.

Together, Alaska’s ‘Slam Sisters’ provide most of the pop in the middle of the lineup.

“It’s crazy to know we went from winning championships together [in Little League] to against each other in high school, then on a team again,” Page said. “It’s been a ride, but it doesn’t stop here. We can’t wait to see where we go for the NCAA regional and it’s time to just grind and shine.”

The NCAA Tournament field will be announced Sunday night.