May 29, 2019
CLINTON, MISS. -- There is no such thing as a disappointing performance in a national collegiate tournament, regardless of the sport -- especially when considering how difficult it is to reach that stage in the first place.
That's the message Louisburg College softball coach Eric Lee has been preaching to his club ever since the Lady Hurricanes returned home after posting a 2-2 overall record at last week's National Junior College Athletic Association Division II World Series at Traceway Park in Mississippi.
"I think some of the kids are kind of hurt that we (didn't win the national title),'' Lee said. "But after everything settles, they will look back and realize everything that we have accomplished as a team this season.''
Fresh off its Region X Tournament crown, the Lady Hurricanes headed to the Magnolia State and opened last Wednesday with a tough 4-3 loss to Itawamba (Miss.) Community College. Itawamba scored a walkoff victory in the bottom of the seventh -- but not after LC's Haleigh Joyner was robbed of a potential home run by a great over-the-fence catch in the top of the stanza.
Still alive in the double-elimination format, Louisburg College bounced back last Thursday with a 4-0 decision over Kankakee Community College as hurlers Mary Anna Clement and Tara Grayson combined on a four-hit shutout. At the plate, Sarah Hilton went 2-for-4 for LC with one double and one RBI.
Later Thursday, the Lady Hurricanes remained alive with a 6-3 triumph versus Sinclair Community College as Hilton stayed hot by going 2-for-4 with one RBI. Joyner chipped in with a run-scoring double.
Now in the Elite Eight of the event, LC saw its campaign close last Friday with a 2-0 loss to Kirkwood CC despite a solid mount effort from Clement in her final game for the Lady Hurricanes. Louisburg College mustered just two hits during the contest to close with an impressive 38-11 overall worksheet.
"I was very happy with our performance,'' Lee said. "In the first game, we played a team from Itawamba that plays in the toughest region in the country and went down to the last inning. For us to even have the opportunity to win was pretty huge.
"Then I was really proud of how we battled back and won twice on Thursday. Those were both games I felt like we should win, and we got the job done.''
And with only three seniors set to depart the program (though Clement will be difficult to replace), the Lady Hurricanes' prospects continue to look good for the future.
"We're a better team in 2019 than we were in 2018,'' Lee said. "And we will have a better team in 2020 than this year. Our kids deserve a lot of credit for the contributions they made toward the success we had down the stretch this season.''