By Ashley Pickert
After a terrific send-off from the Blue Crew, the women’s softball team began its journey to the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament. The Crusaders arrived in Kerrville, Texas in “Sandlot”-themed clothing, ready to have some fun and play their best softball. On Friday, they faced the sixth-seeded Schreiner University Mountaineers. Senior Ashley Pickert started on the mound and allowed only three earned runs in this low-scoring game. On offense, sophomore Lyda Tesauro hit 3-3 with a double, adding to a previous double from junior Erin Begle. Sophomore Avery Finch also singled and scored by an RBI from senior Taylor Garcia. However, it was not enough and the Crusaders lost the game 4-2.
The next day the team played the No. 4 team, the Southwestern University Pirates. There was tension in the air as sophomore Katie Lee stepped on the mound. The score was 0-0 until the third inning when some errors led to a 3-0 lead for the Pirates. The Crusaders refused to give up even when the scoreboard showed them far behind the competitor, 8-2. They responded with doubles from freshman Madison Goforth, sophomore Ciara Stewart, Tesauro, Begle and Garcia, as well as a triple from sophomore Allison Kotlar. RBIs were also hit by Goforth, Begle, Garcia and Stewart, who chalked up three. The bench cheered louder than it ever had all season. Every player put her heart into the game and gave her best effort. But, unfortunately, it was not enough, and the final game of the season ended with a loss of 8-6.
However, the season did not end on a completely tragic note. Many of the Crusaders received high honors and broke records at the conference tournament. Lee ended her season with 101 strikeouts and made the all-conference team alongside Tesauro. Finch led the conference with 30 stolen bases, an accomplishment that was also the UD program record for a single season. Additionally, Finch made the all-conference second team. Garcia finished with the season RBI record with a total of 40. Finally, several players snagged honorable mention honors for the conference: Garcia, Pickert, Begle, Kotlar and Goforth.
“I think our season went a lot better than most people expected, but not as well as we expected,” Begle said. “We had a lot of talent and worked hard all year and honestly had the potential to win the conference tournament. We faced adversity in many forms all year and continued to persevere to complete our season with a winning record. We broke many records throughout the season and took third in conference, which we are all very proud of. We all would have liked the tournament to have lasted longer for our seniors, but in the end together we have still created a tradition of passion that will never graduate.”