Softball collects wins for best start in program history

Danny Van Brunt, Co-Sports Editor

One team at Wilkes has dominated a series of early games, which has sent them on a historical run this season. At 7-1, the Wilkes women’s softball team has initiated the best start in program history.

The softball team began their season in Myrtle Beach, SC, and played all eight games there. They jumped out to a four-game win streak, and the first two games ended in only five innings with Wilkes mounting eight points in both games. Following those two wins, Wilkes raised their win streak to four by claiming the next two matches 4-0 and 4-3.

Their first loss of the season came from Grove City College following their fourth win, and Wilkes fell 2-6. After their first loss, Wilkes continued on to win the final three games of the Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic. Wilkes won the first game of three with a score of 4-3, the second game ended 8-0 after five innings and their final game ended 9-0 after six innings.

After their optimal performance at Myrtle Beach, the awards came rolling in for both sophomore Caitlin Brown and first-year Gracen Staunton.

“It is a humbling experience to be recognized not only by the Middle Atlantic Conference but also regionally by the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference and nationally by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, and Louisville Slugger. It is truly an honor to be commended for all the hard work I’ve put forth,” Brown said.

In her second year playing for Wilkes, she has noticed the difference between her and the team’s performance compared to last year.

“This year my approach to the plate is very different. I have worked a lot not only on my physical game, fundamentals and skills, but my mental game as well. This season we have a very positive and promising outlook. I see us having an improved overall record, sweeping all the teams we have split with and making it as far as possible in the post season,” Brown said.

First-year player Staunton pitches for Wilkes, and she has exceeded the expectations of her fellow teammates.

“To me, the most impressive thing, through our first eight games, has been how well we are all doing our jobs on the field. My performance is really just a small part of the success of this team; the biggest part of the accomplishments of this team are the players that defend when I am in the circle and all of us working to score runs. To be honest, I wouldn’t be able to have pitching success without everyone being on the field and backing me up like they did in Myrtle Beach,” said Staunton.

The softball team was chosen to place seventh in the conference out of eight, but the beginning of their season tells a different story.

“As for the future of this team: on the field, we will continue to improve as a team, and we will continue to surprise the people that voted us to finish seventh in the conference; off the field, these “team” experiences will teach us all how much we can accomplish (and succeed) when we all do our job,” said Staunton.

Senior Lacey Bixler also has an interesting perspective on this season. After playing for the softball team for the four years, she thinks that this is her best opportunity to capture some wins in both the MAC and the playoffs.

“This years’ team dynamics is a lot different than previous years. Our team this year clicks as a whole and we play as a unit. Our pitching is going to be a strong point this year. We have a lot of freshmen with talent. In previous years I feel as if there was always a piece of the puzzle missing, and this year I feel as if we have all the missing pieces,” said Bixler.

Bixler looks to Myrtle Beach as a sign that her team will perform well this season. She hopes to win the MAC, and personally, she hopes to accomplish many goals in her final season.

Staunton reflected on the numerous awards that she received early in her first season.

“As a first year player, I have been focused on doing the right things to get ready to contribute to the team this season. So, it was both a surprise and a very special honor to have been noticed for my performances in Myrtle Beach to start the season. But mostly, it got my attention that the hard work that we put in both as individuals and our successes and accomplishments as a team are being noticed by others,” said Staunton.

The Wilkes softball team will begin their regular season with two conference games.