By Sam Armstrong
BUENA VISTA, Va. – The Southern Virginia University softball team recently completed the best season in the NCAA Division III era, posting a 14-23 record overall and a 3-11 mark in CAC play.
"I am very encouraged by the success of the season," said head coach Tiffane Pendleton. "We were able to return the core of our team from the 2017 season which really helped us have more confidence and experience on the field this year."
Southern Virginia had a historic season, winning its first conference game in program history against Frostburg State at home, and also pulled off big wins against York (Pa.) and Wesley. The 14 wins for the team is the most since 2010.
"Looking at the progress of the season, we were able to make adjustments in a short amount of time and it led to some key successes," Pendleton continued. "We went from close, high-scoring games, to losing in extra innings, to winning in extra innings, to sweeps, and lastly to our first conference wins."
The Knights were able to return nine players from last year, which was a key factor in improving in almost every major statistical category this season. As a team, the Knights were able to record a .327 batting average, a .370 on-base percentage, as well as score 203 total runs, almost 50 more than last year. Nine hitters ended the season with a batting average over .300, and every player who recorded an at-bat finished over .250.
Hitting in the leadoff spot as well as leading the team on offense was sophomore Heather Terranova, who had a .371 average with two home runs, 12 doubles, and 27 RBIs. The catcher only struck out one time in 131 plate appearances.
Also hitting well for the Knights were Katierose Helems with a .375 average, Tara Hilton with 23 RBIs, Mykayla Johnson with a .347 average, and Mollie Gabbert and Madison Rigby with 20 RBIs each. Freshmen Bethanie Hudson and Caitlin Barber played excellent defense on the left side of the infield on top of swinging the bat well.
Harmon, a sophomore, posted an 11-11 record with a 3.71 ERA, and she also struck out 83 batters on the year, good for fourth in the CAC. The highlight of the season for Harmon came in pitching a perfect game against Trinity (D.C.). Peyton had a solid year as well, throwing nine complete games and tossing a no-hitter against Trinity (D.C.).
The team will lose two seniors for next season in Gabbert and Helems.
"I am proud of our seniors this season and it will be bittersweet to have them graduate," Pendleton concluded. "Both ladies had a fantastic season and their leadership will be hard to replace."