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Senior speaks about softball, overcoming and a miracle

Crystal City, Tx native is Lady Lions' version of Popeye 

WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  She may have played her last college softball game, but she has not struck out on life. In fact, she is just starting to swing!

Cassandra Mata played two seasons at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, each ending with an injury. Neither prevented the determined senior from graduating and suiting up for the game of life. (Read her answer to Question #5 about a healing miracle)

Mata (MAH-tah), who played centerfield with gusto, concluded her studies with a major in Secondary Education. She also invested much in youth and student ministries, which is likely where she’ll eventually make her mark.

Committed to God’s call on her life, Mata came to SAGU follow her heart’s yearning to reach young people, either as a teacher or youth pastor.

Her glove and range in covering the outfield was her strength. Cassy played an error-free 28 games.

Recovering from a broken foot she suffered a year ago, Mata toiled at the plate, batting .240. Six sacrifice bunts revealed her willingness to yield for the betterment of the team.

She also had a double and a triple and drove in 10 runs, showing her ability to deliver in the clutch. (Read her account of her game-winning hit in Question #9).

In fact, Mata was one of seven players to reach double-figures in RBI’s (runs batted in).

A year ago, during the Lady Lions’ inaugural season that saw them post a 2-28 won-lost record, no one knocked in more than seven runs.

The Purple Pride went from being outscored 263-43 in 2012 to a 13-24 record this year, scoring 156 while allowing 253.

SAGU narrowly missed qualifying for a berth in the Red River Athletic Conference tournament.

Mata’s play mattered, much as her plan to influence today’s youth.

Interestingly, she calls Crystal City (7,190 pop.), Texas her hometown. The farming community, located only 35 miles from the border to Mexico, greets visitors with a statue of a well-known, unpaid ambassador.

Popeye, the squinty-eyed, speech impaired sailor man, stands on a column as a tribute to Crystal City’s fame as the Spinach Capital of the World. Eat enough of the iron-rich plant and you don’t even need a can opener.

As a strong woman of God, Mata is confident in her proclamation: “I yam what I yam.”

Cassy Mata Bio

Name:  Cassandra Mata
Birthplace:  Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Parents:  Joe Ruben and Leticia Mata
Siblings:  Lorraine (26), Rachelle (25), Joe (24)
High School:  Crystal City HS (Crystal City, Tx)
Favorite Motivational Verse and Motto:  Psalms 37: 4. “Delight yourself with the lord and he will give you your heart.”
“My Prince Charming will come, but I am already with the KING!”
- Cassy Mata
Favorite Book:
  The Bible, of course!
Favorite Movie“We are Marshall.” For some reason I cried like a baby in that movie.
Major at SAGUSecondary Education/youth and student ministries
Your Immediate Plans: To spend a year in Hong Kong Asia year 2014 with ESL.

Q1)  What were your reasons for choosing SAGU?
Cassandra Mata:
  To grow deeper in my spiritual life. Follow my calling to becoming a youth pastor.

Q2)  Who were your favorite professors and why?
Cassy:
  Dr. Elmer Humphrey – I had him for an eight o’clock class, and he always had a smile on.

Dr. Garland Owensby – What are the chances of your professor being a paid comedian? If you’ve ever taken his class you’d know how fun, out of the norm, and simply how cool he is. But yet the way he teaches is phenomenal.

Q3)  How would you summarize your accomplishments (athletically) at SAGU?
Cassy:
  Overcoming adversity. I have broken more bones in the years I have played (here) but I kept pushing on. Though my accomplishments may not be on paper as a banner year, they are self-accomplishments in simply never giving up.

Q4)  What did you enjoy most about the SAGU experience?
Cassy
The fact that I came to meet complete strangers who came to be acquaintances, to soon move to friends, who soon became like my family who I told the craziest secrets to.

I believe that the people that I have met here have been orchestrated by God it was not by coincidence.

Q5)  What was a spiritual highlight of your time at SAGU?
Cassy
Last year I broke my collarbone and I attended (one of the late) night worship (services). Up to that point I hadn’t prayed for my collarbone to get healed. I simply accepted it.

The worship leader said, “There is pain in this room. People have come in with broken bones but our God is a miracle maker. He can heal you tonight.”

I remember thinking to myself “God, I love you, but I don’t want to question your power. Besides, I know this isn’t a life or death situation, so I don’t really need to pray for a healing.”

That’s when I sensed Him say to me, “Who are you to undermine my power? Now, get busy praying!”

At this point I was crying because I knew God was speaking to me. I reached up to touch my collarbone and began to pray for the first time for healing.

I said “God you are God. If it is your will to heal me, I will praise you. If it’s not, I still will praise you.” As I continued to pray I felt heat overcome my shoulder.

And then the worship leader said, “I feel God restoring bones. There’s a collarbone being attached right now.”

I knew it was me, so I took off my sling and lifted both hands to the sky. I hadn’t been able to do that in three weeks. My teammate, Iliana Jimenez, and Assistant Coach Rachel Harris, looked at me, astonished.

What was supposed to be six to eight weeks in a sling lasted only three weeks. I give all the honor and glory to God!

P.S. My doctor could not believe it!

Q6)  What was the most pleasant surprise you experienced at SAGU?
Cassy:
  That miracle! Also, becoming a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God. Playing softball. The program hadn’t started when I first came here.

Q7)  What did you most appreciate from your coach's leadership?
Cassy:
  Coach (Tim) Grant always reminded us to give God honor and glory.

He (Coach) deserves far more (credit) than we can possibly give him. If there’s one thing I’d like to say to him is: “Thank you for being that spiritual leader to me. You pushed me to be my best on and off the field.”

Q8)  Did you ever participate in any ministry with your team?
Cassy:
 Last year we had the chance to meet at Coach Grant’s church, where I was honored to bring the Word and preach. I was also able to give the girls devotions at practices and team outings.

Q9)  What was your biggest win? What happened?
Cassy:
  Against the University of the Southwest, the score was tied 3-3 in the fifth inning. I was coming to the plate with runners on first and second.

(Third Base) Coach (Nathan) Nance told me “I want you to bunt to first base to move (advance) the baserunners.”
I looked at him and said, “But I’m really feeling a hit.”

I have never been one to question my coaches’ authority but something within me just said, “I have to HIT!”

Coach Nance looked at me and said “I’ll give you one strike.”

I walked up into the batter’s box and drove the first pitch in the gap between left and centerfield. It was a two-run double. We won by that margin, 5-3.

It was the biggest hit of the day. God was good to me.

Q10)  How was the competition in the NAIA?
Cassy:
  Being a new softball program, we knew well this wasn’t going to come easy. But we fought through in every game, sometimes to avoid being swept. A few times, we were doing the sweeping!

Q11)  What aspect of the game will you miss the most?
Cassy:
  The game itself; sweat dripping down my face, crowd cheering, making an ESPN web-gem (catch), or simply hitting a game winning hit.

Just being able to watch and be with my teammates. We have the same love to play softball and a greater love for God.

Q12)  What would you have liked to have received or accomplished while wearing the purple and gold?
Cassy:
  Just wearing the purple and gold colors was far more than what I could ask for. I am blessed to have had the chance to play the game I love while getting my education.

Q13)  Any post-college hopes of utilizing your athletic career?
Cassy
I would love one day to be able to coach softball.

Q14)  How would you like to be remembered as a player?
Cassy:
  Being a reflection of God. Someone who wasn’t scared to leave their mark for the kingdom of God.

Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 469-658-2847.
 

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