Editor’s Note: This is the first in a five-part series on the 2020 Tiger Hall of Fame.
Former Arkansas City High School and Cowley College softball standout Jacey (Juden) Dauphin, describing her journey to Cowley as divine intervention, will be inducted into the Tiger Athletic Hall of Fame on Jan. 18.
Dauphin learned softball from her father, Bob Juden, who guided Arkansas City High to four state titles. She was a natural.
“Honestly, I don’t ever remember ‘starting’ softball. It was just something that was always a part of our family,” Dauphin said. “Dad and I began pitching lessons with Rhod Buser when I was 7, but as far as throwing, hitting, taking ground balls, fly balls, that was always just what we did. I went with dad to practice since I was old enough to remember. If we weren’t at practice, we were playing catch in the yard or hitting at the cage. It was just a way of life for us.”
Dauphin played high-level softball throughout the year, traveling the country with the Wichita Mustangs 18 Gold team from the time she was 14. She was a four-time All-League selection at Ark City High School, a three-time Most Valuable Player and a four-time All-State selection, and helped the Lady Bulldogs to back-to-back KSHSAA Class 5A State Championships (2006-07).
At the time she had the Kansas State Sports Hall of Fame pitching records for most consecutive wins (47), most career shutouts (50), single-season shutouts (19) and single season ERA (0.06).
“Playing for my dad was an experience I had always looked forward to and it certainly didn’t disappoint,” Dauphin said. “Bless him for not killing me some days, but we had some of the best experiences of my life during our time together on the Bulldog softball field, too.”
After high school Dauphin took kind of a curvy road on her path to Cowley. She signed a five-year full ride scholarship to play softball at the University of Arkansas. She went to Fayetteville in August, started school and practice, had a good time and was successful in her endeavors there. However, after a month being at Arkansas, she ended up coming home.
“I called (Cowley coach) Ed (Hargrove) on the way home from Arkansas and asked if he had an opening for another pitcher. He said he did, and the next day I was at practice as a Tiger,” Jacey said. “At the time, I didn’t know exactly why I had come home. Yet, there was just something that made me come home. Looking back on life from the present, I now believe there was some divine intervention in my journey.”
Dauphin suffered a tragic loss when her brother, Tyler, was killed in Afghanistan in 2009.
“The summer of 2009 was the last time I got to live life with my brother. He watched me play for a national championship in May, and he was with me as I was named an NJCAA All-American and the Greater Wichita Area College Female Athlete of the Year,” Dauphin said. “I spent a week with him in South Carolina in June and the last time I saw him was the Fourth of July, 2009. Had I been playing softball at Arkansas, none of the things I experienced with him that summer would have taken place. I was afforded those opportunities due to being at Cowley, and I think God knew. He sent me home.”
As for the return home to play softball, it proved to be a wise decision. Dauphin ended up as one of the most dominant pitchers in the history of the Cowley program.
She compiled a 43-10 record during her two years in the circle and was a unanimous Jayhawk East Most Valuable Player selection each year at the school. She was named an All-American as a sophomore.
The right-hander still holds three pitching records at Cowley. Dauphin was a feared hitter at the plate, with 12 career home runs and 99 runs batted in. The dual-threat athlete helped the Lady Tigers to a two-year record of 94-17.
“I always felt like I got a second chance with Jacey and was very fortunate to coach her for two years considering she signed with Arkansas out of high school,” Hargrove said. “Jacey was very coachable and because of that she was a team leader due to her work ethic and positive attitude both on and off the field. That could have been because she played for her dad in high school, but I’ve seen that go the other way, too.”
Dauphin enjoyed the opportunity to play softball at Cowley for Hargrove.
“Ed Hargrove is a wonderful person. He and his program chose to take me in at a time when they didn’t have to,” Dauphin said. “He had a highly capable squad without me, but he took me in and made me a part of what they had. The Cowley family and the softball team embraced me so wonderfully and made my transition there such a great one. Some of the best times of my life were spent as a Cowley Tiger, under the direction of Coach Ed, and for that I am forever grateful.”
After Cowley, she signed a softball/rodeo letter of intent at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. Dauphin helped to lead the Lady Rangers to a conference title in her only year of softball at NWOSU.
“My success throughout my entire career came most definitely from the people around me — my coaches, who taught me so much about the game and gave me the opportunity to be on the field and do what I love, and my teammates, who were there every step of the way — were vital to my success,” Dauphin said. “Every pitch I threw was caught by someone; every run scored was because of somebody being on base and somebody at the plate getting the job done. My success was one of the farthest things from a one-man job there was, and I am so grateful for the wonderful teammates that surrounded me throughout my career.
“Finally, any success I had as a softball player, or a person in general, can be attributed to my family. The example set by my parents of what it means to have a dream and work hard to attain it, the long hours they put in with me to practice, travel to practice, games, tournaments, camps, and the amount of money they invested in a chance — in a passion. I can never thank them enough.”
Dauphin obtained an associate’s degree from Cowley and earned a bachelor’s degree in Health and Sports Science Education from NWOSU.
She is currently in her fifth year of teaching and coaching softball at Vici (Okla.) High School, where she has led the team to a state tournament appearance.
“Teaching and coaching was all I ever knew,” Dauphin said. “Both my mom (Reatha) and dad were teachers and high school coaches, and it was a passion I guess you could say I came by honestly.”
Dauphin and her husband, Marc, reside south of Woodward, Okla., with their son, Easton, 2, and daughter, 6-month-old Oaklee.
Dauphin considers being a Cowley softball player an honor and a privilege. She is honored to have been chosen for the Tiger Athletic Hall of Fame.
“Many different emotions come to me when I think about the opportunity to be recognized among this group of athletes and coaches,” Dauphin said. “I was never one to worry about any individual accolades or achievements as a player. Those things seemed so irrelevant in a team setting. To be among the athletes in the Tiger Athletic Hall of Fame is such an amazing honor to me; I can’t even completely wrap my head around it yet. But it also makes me so happy for my team. I hope they all chalk this up to a victory in their win column, as well, because, in a way, they get to come with me. Because without them, none of this would be possible.”