The Fighting Squirrels softball team made its debut in the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament May 7, after a conference championship win against Hood College.
The softball team’s trip to the Division III playoffs marked Mary Baldwin’s second appearance in the national sports arena this year; the college had never before sent a team to an NCAA tournament. This winter, the Mary Baldwin basketball team won its first AWCC championship to advance to the tournament.
Just four years after entering the Atlantic Women’s Colleges Conference in varsity softball, the Fighting Squirrels traveled to Salisbury, Maryland, for the East Regional games. Unfortunately, Mary Baldwin — seeded sixth — lost its first game to Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, at Camden, the No. 3 seed. The team was eliminated from the tournament after a second loss to Cabrini College, of Radnor, Pennsylvania.
“After a few nervous and jittery innings, we held both teams off for a long time,” said head softball coach Christy Shelton ’87. “Our players know now that we can play at that level and my goal is to return and improve next year.”
Mary Baldwin, seeded first in the AWCC tournament, beat Chatham College and Chestnut Hill College to meet the Blazers of Hood College in the title game. The scenario was familiar to returning Fighting Squirrels players — Mary Baldwin met Hood in the championship last year and lost.
This time, Mary Baldwin won the first game 9–8 in the best-two-out-of-three series, but fell behind 4–2 in the seventh inning of the second game. Hits by Tiffany Morris ’06 and Jessica Brown ’07 rallied the Squirrels to within one run. A two-run homer by team captain Jordan Armstrong ’04 cleared the fence and earned the 5–4 victory.
Armstrong is the team’s only senior and the only player who has been a member since the inaugural 2000 season.
“They didn’t quit,” said Mary Baldwin head coach Christy Shelton ’87. “They put together the best five games they’ve played all year.” The Squirrels’ finished the season 21-19.
For more details about the softball team’s championship season, visit https://go.marybaldwin.edu/athletics/ .