Softball took down #3 Christopher Newport University to continue their hot start to the season. Head Coach Brandon Elliott and the Lady Marlins softball team went into the 2021 season with lofty expectations. Coach Elliot’s team enters the 2021 season as the 4th ranked team in the nation according to the National Coaches Fastpitch Association.
The Lady Marlins are returning an experienced team after the lone loss of senior Kayla Duplain. While Coach Elliott said the loss of a leader like Duplain would certainly be felt by the team, they are emboldened by the return of Hannah Hull, Madison Glaubke and Jessica Goldyn, who opted for their fifth years provided by the Covid-19 pandemic of last year shutting down their senior seasons early.
Coach Elliott stated, “I think our expectations are the same every year. We want to compete to win a National Championship. We don’t shy away from talking about it. It’s not a goal, it’s an expectation.” While the Lady Marlins’ season was cut short last year, they are eager to get back to their 2017 and 2018 form where they were crowned National Champions after their wins against St. John Fisher and Illinois Wesleyan respectively.
In 2019, the Lady Marlins suffered a shocking loss in a three game series of the Regional Round of the National Championship to ODAC foe, Lynchburg College. This is the type of competition that Coach Elliot and his team are hungry for. In the 2021 season, nearly 25% of the Lady Marlins schedule is against top-10 teams in the nation. With games scheduled against Christopher Newport, Salisbury, Lynchburg and Emory & Henry, the Lady Marlins will surely be a tested team when it comes time to play for the Conference Championship in May.
While this team is full of firepower and talent, they are not immune to challenges. Coach Elliot stated that this is probably the most stressful season he has ever coached due to the day-to-day uncertainty that comes with coaching in the world of a pandemic. Junior shortstop/catcher Makenzie Watts states that while playing in the world of a pandemic has brought difficulties, “we have the ability to come together and get through any challenges that are brought our way… [and] although the circumstances aren’t normal, we are all extremely grateful to be back on the field together.”
This passion to get back on the field can be seen right away as the Lady Marlins opened the season with overwhelming victories in double headers against William Peace University and Meredith College with a combined score of 34-1. Even more impressive were the wins for the Lady Marlins Saturday over the 3rd ranked team in the nation and coastal rival, Christopher Newport University. In the first game, the Lady Marlins won 2-0 with runs from seniors Daja Burgee and Maria Weddle. In the second game, the Lady Marlins won 11-8, despite being out-hit by the Captains 7-11. Coach Elliott and his team look to carry this success through their next double header against Salisbury University on March 3.
By Anthony Wilson