Surry softball headed to College World Series

Dobson, NC – May 3, 2015.

For the first time in program history, Surry Community College’s softball team is going to the College World Series.

The Surry Knights punched their ticket to Clinton, Mississippi on Sunday with a 3-1 victory over Richard Bland Community College in the Region X Tournament Championship game. Surry (31-11) came into the tournament as the No. 2 seed, but defeated regular-season champ Richard Bland twice to move on. With the win, Surry becomes the first Division II team ever from Region X to go to the College World Series.

“It is wonderful. I still can’t believe it,” said Surry sophomore and Region X Tournament Most Outstanding Player Shey Steelman. “All the hard work and dedication we put in to get here, it was worth it.”

As the No. 2 seed, SCC earned a first-round bye in the Region X Tournament at Springwood Park in Burlington. The Knights opened tournament action Saturday with a 7-3 victory over Southeastern Community College. Later Saturday, Surry advanced to the championship round of the double-elimination tournament with a 9-5 win over Richard Bland.

The Knights fell 7-1 on Sunday to Richard Bland, setting up a winner-take-all game Sunday afternoon. Steelman, who pitched 21 innings and went 3-0 over the weekend, pitched her third complete game and allowed just one run as the Knights won 3-1 to win the Region X Tournament title.

“I was very sore, but after the last out I didn’t feel any more pain I was so excited,” Steelman said. “I think hitting was the biggest key. We didn’t hit as well as we should have, but he just good enough to get the runs we needed. The defense really picked us up. We had a couple of errors, but shook it off and took it inning by inning and game by game.”

Surry, ranked No. 19 in the nation in the NJCAA Division II softball poll, will be making just the school’s second-ever trip to the College World Series. The SCC baseball team made it to the Division III national tournament in 1998.

“This is a great accomplishment not only for the softball program, but also for our entire school,” SCC Athletic Director Mark Tucker said. “The girls played extremely well throughout the season. We are so proud of all the players and coaches.”

Surry will now move on to the College World Series, also known as the 2015 NJCAA Division II Softball National Championship, from May 13-16 at Tracewood Park in Clinton, Miss. The double-elimination tournament will feature 16 teams from around the country. Seedings and pairings haven’t been announced yet, but Surry will play May 13 at either 1:30 or 3:30 p.m. Times and pairings will be released at a later date.

“From the start of the season we had a goal to get to the World Series. I told the girls it was a lofty goal, but you have to have a common goal, and that should be ours, to be the first team from Surry to go to the World Series,” Surry head coach Blaine Bullington said. “The Lord was good to us and it worked out. We played hard and we are going to get to make the trip. To me it is not about whether or not you win, but just to get the opportunity to go to the World Series, not everybody can say they’ve done that. Now this group can say they are the first, but our plan is to keep going. I am so proud of this group and the way they fought.”

Bullington said everybody stepped up and played well this weekend for Surry. With three wins, Steelman deserved to be Most Outstanding Player, but teammates Lacey Grubbs, Molli Huffman, Rachel Wagoner, Taylor Little and Regan Gentry all were named to the Region X All-Tournament Team.

“They all played extremely well this weekend, but you really have to give it to Shey. Everybody contributed, even those who didn’t make all-tournament,” Bullington said. “Like Hayley Tickle, she hit a home run and double, was basically all of our offense in Game 1 today. Sometimes it works like that. But Shey pitched well and deserved everything she got.”

Bullington was proud of the way his team responded after “taking it on the chin” in the 7-1 loss earlier Sunday.

“It was an opportunity for us to lay down and not play well, but they picked it up and found a way. They wanted to go on to the World Series and I am proud of them for it,” he said. “I just can’t say enough about them. They wanted it bad this weekend. I am so excited for this group of ladies.”

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