A young Fighting Squirrels softball team made its second consecutive appearance in the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament May 13, after a conference championship win against Chatham College.
The Mary Baldwin softball team’s trip to the Division III playoffs capped a stellar regular season in which the team posted a flawless 14-0 record in the Atlantic Women’s College’s Conference (AWCC).
Just five years after entering AWCC in varsity softball, the Fighting Squirrels repeated last year’s trip to Salisbury, Maryland for the East Regional games. Unfortunately, Friday the 13th was an unlucky day for the team. Mary Baldwin – seeded fifth – lost its opening game to the Ferrum College Panthers, the No. 4 seed. The team was eliminated after a second loss, to the Moravian College Greyhounds The cloud did have a silver lining, though. The team’s three seniors were able to make it back to Staunton for their Commencement ceremony May 15.
“They played like champions,” Mary Baldwin Head Coach Christy Shelton ’87 said about the Squirrels’ conference title win. “Many of these students played last year, and it was in the back of my mind and their minds to get back to the NCAA tournament.”
Mary Baldwin finished the season with a 15-24 overall record, and several team members earned conference awards. Shelton – in just her second year as head coach – was named coach of the year in the AWCC. Pitcher Denise Michael ’06, Jessica Brown ’07, and Mina Uejima ’07 were named to the first team all-conference. Senior Kelly Lally and freshman Karen Potter were named to the second team.
The softball team’s recent success poises it well for Mary Baldwin’s switch to USA South athletic conference, which the college recently announced. Mary Baldwin sought membership in USA South as a way to increase recognition for its athletic programs and decrease time spent on the road traveling to games. USA South officials voted May 10 to accept Mary Baldwin as a full member of the conference – which includes eight other schools in Virginia and North Carolina – beginning in the 2007-08 academic year.