Kendall Dawson wanted to end her collegiate softball career buried at the bottom of a pile.
She got her wish when her playing days at the University of Alabama ended in the dreamiest way possible.
A former Plant City High standout and senior catcher for the Tide, Dawson caught the final out as the Crimson Tide won the school's first NCAA national championship in softball. Alabama defeated Oklahoma last month at the Women's College World Series.
And Dawson ended up buried underneath the celebratory dogpile.
"There was never going to be another chance for it to happen again, so I was happy," she said.
National television captured the moment for her and her family and friends as Dawson secured strike three from pitcher Jackie Traina and bounded out to the mound to kick off the celebration.
Dawson stresses otherwise, but Alabama surprised experts by winning the title. There was the whole never-been-done aspect not just for her school but, amazingly, for her conference. That's right: the mighty Southeastern Conference had never won a championship in the sport.
And the Tide faced the de facto home team. With the Women's College World Series taking place in Oklahoma City, the Sooners had the majority of fan support. And they were led by national Player of the Year Keilani Ricketts.
That Oklahoma team subdued the Tide 4-1 in the first game of the best-of-three finals. Dawson said it didn't matter.
"That night I told my roommate Jaz (Lunceford) there's no way they could beat us two more times," Dawson said. "There hadn't been a team do that to us all year."
Alabama (60-8) won the second game 8-6. In Game 3, Alabama again went down 3-0. But Dawson tallied two of the Tide's seven hits in the comeback win.
Dawson expects to take a graduate assistant coaching role at Saint Leo University in Dade City after graduating in December.
She'll be closer to parents Ben and Diane, sister Mackenzie (who pitched at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg) and brother Sawyer, a Plant City High student.
"I'll miss Alabama, but I will be very happy to be home," Dawson said.
Darek Sharpe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.