Knights wrap up season with school-record 31 wins
Sometimes it’s not always about the wins and losses, but rather about the journey and the experience.
Such was the case this week for Surry Community College’s softball team. While the Knights did not win any games at the NJCAA Division II National Tournament, the Knights earned something just as important – proof that they belonged with the nation’s best 16 teams and invaluable experience for the future.
Having won the Region X Tournament and qualifying for the College World Series for the first time, Surry had a tough go of things in the opener in Clinton, Miss. on Wednesday. Playing as the #13 seed, SCC managed just two hits in a 5-0 loss to #4 seed Des Moines Area Community College.
“They are a good team and they’ve been here before, but I felt like we had opportunities we just didn’t capitalize on,” Surry head coach Blaine Bullington said. “We hit the ball hard, but we hit it right at them all day long. Nerves were the biggest thing, but I think after that game the girls realized we were as good as anybody out there.”
The Lady Knights showed a ton of heart and determination Thursday before dropping an elimination game with #12 seed Macomb Community College from Michigan. After falling behind 2-0 early, Surry was down to its final at-bat in the top of the seventh. With a pair of runners on, Jodie Brock drilled a single through the gap to score both runs and tie the game at 2-all. Macomb took advantage of a couple of miscues in the bottom half of the inning to prevail 3-2.
“We felt good about it. We had runners in scoring position early, but didn’t score. They scored early on a little bit of a questionable call, but we had to fight back,” Bullington said. “Jodie got the big hit in the top of the seventh and then we had a couple of mistakes in the bottom half of the inning. I thought they played hard and played well, we just made a couple of mistakes that cost us a run. But I don’t want that to define our season. I think 31-13 speaks for itself. That’s a school record for wins, and there were a lot of other records we broke along the way with individual accolades. These two losses did not define our season. Somebody said, ‘We didn’t have a good season, we had a great season,’ and I agree with that.”
The defense and pitching was great in both games for Surry, Bullington said. He knew the atmosphere would be a little overwhelming at times for the Knights, but said his team was pretty even with just about every club at the national tournament.
“One thing I recognized when we got here was that we belonged. The other teams were pretty much on our level. We saw some good teams, but the truth is this tournament is wide open,” Bullington said. “The pitching we saw was no better than what we saw in the regular season. We just didn’t hit well, and if you don’t score, you don’t win. I was happy with how we played and pitched, I just felt like we didn’t focus on our at bats as well as we needed.”
The experience of making it to the national tournament is one that can never be taken away from the team’s sophomores, Bullington said. And for the freshmen, it should be a tremendous springboard for next season to try to make it back.
“We felt like we deserved to be here. We have 11 players and we won 31 games. The next smallest team there had 14 players. Most everyone else had 20 or more,” he said. “You take 11 kids knowing everyday they have to put it on the line and play 44 games, that is a lot for them. They stayed healthy and probably played in pain a few times and didn’t say anything because they knew we were shorthanded. They did all the things it takes, even with a small number, all season to put themselves in position to get this opportunity. They knew this was the first automatic bid for Region X and they wanted it. We were so blessed to come down and play this game against good teams from all over the country and have this experience. Now that we have a taste of it, our freshmen want to come back. So many kids play this game and never get this opportunity. This is something they can take with them the rest of their lives and pass on to their kids.”
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