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The Guilfordian

Softball

The team struggled in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Tournament despite having the third seed in the bracket. The Quakers took an early first loss in an upset to a sixth-seeded Roanoke College, 6-3, and had their season ended by Emory and Henry the next day, 7-2.

Nonetheless, some record-setting individual performances throughout the season culminated into a historic season for Guilford softball, who put had a school-record five players received All-ODAC recognition.

The Quakers got the play they wanted out of their star leaders. Sophomore Makayla Carver, who received second team All-ODAC honors as a designated player in her first-year campaign, started at left field for Guilford and dominated on opposing pitchers. She led the Quakers with 21 multiple hit games with 67 total hits, the most in the conference. Her 67 hits also rank second in school history.

She also led her team and the ODAC with 18 doubles, and ranks among the top five ODAC leaders in at-bats (151), runs, runs batted in (36), total bases (97), batting average (.444) and on-base percentage (.500). She taunted pitchers, converting on 12 out of her 14 stolen-base attempts, and ranks third all-time at Guilford with 36 career stolen bases.

Carver, along with teammates senior Caroline Barnette, sophomore Sabrina Moreno and first-year Kayli Blankenship received first-team All-ODAC recognition this season, setting the school standard with four players receiving the honor in a single season.

Barnette became the College’s first player to receive first-team All-ODAC honors twice in her career. Batting .364 in ODAC play, Barnette had 11 multiple hit games for Guilford, including seven games where she batted in two or more runs. She finished the year with 23 RBI, eight doubles and a pair of homers.

The second baseman fielded all 63 of her chances during ODAC play cleanly, and finished the season with a .985 fielding percentage with only two errors on the year.

Moreno showed her consistency with another stellar season for the team. Teammates on base get excited with she is up to bat, leading the team with a league fourth-best 38 RBI. She had five hits in the Quakers’ record setting season finale victory over Sweet Briar College, scored five runs and notched two doubles. Her .410 overall batting percentage was fourth best on the team and 12th in the conference, astonishing numbers from the Quakers’ team as a whole. She hit .457 in ODAC play.

First-year Kayli Blankenship led the team and league at .466, a number standing 42nd in the nation. Her quickness helped her to a .505 on base percentage, good for fourth in ODAC and stands fifth in school history. Her 14 stolen bases in 16 attempts in all games also ranked among the ODAC’s best and fifth-best all-time at Guilford. Blankenship can find her name in the record books for her 38 scored runs, good for seventh-most in school history, as well.

The Quakers dominating hitting in the conference, ranking first in hits (498), runs (329), doubles (104) and RBI (293). Keep in mind, Guilford competes in one of the top conferences in softball in the nation. Virginia Wesleyan College is ranked first in the nation, Randolph-Macon College is ranked 16th and Emory and Henry was ranked in the top 25 just two weeks ago. The three, along with Lynchburg College, are all ranked among the top eight teams in the Atlantic region.

Guilford softball kicked off the season strong, winning 12 of their first 14 games. Their only two losses during the stretch were to solid teams, Salem College and William Peace University, both in doubleheader matchups.

What kept Guilford away from a regional rank and at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament was their play against the top teams. They were swept by Virginia-Wesleyan and Lynchburg in their respective doubleheaders and split the home doubleheader with Emory and Henry. They also split with Randolph-Macon, but had a convincing 9-1 victory in game two, showing another struggle they faced all year: slow starts.

The baseball team underwent this as well this season. In several games, the Quakers allowed their opponent to get out to an early lead, but shut them down for the rest of the game. But by then, it is already too late and they are forced to try to make a comeback.

In the 3-1 loss in game one of the Virginia Wesleyan doubleheader, the Quakers gave up all three Marlin runs in the first three innings, then shut them out the rest of the game.

The Quakers’ pitching unit was led by junior Courtney Lackey. She started in all 20 of her appearances, and posted a league sixth-best 11 wins. She led the team with 124 innings pitched and 62 strikeouts.

Carver, showing her versatility, was the team’s second leading pitcher, posting a 1.95 earned run average, good for seventh in the ODAC. Head coach Dennis Shores looks to return both Lackey and Carver next season.

The regular season was a momentous success for the team and showed lots of promise. What many thought would happen was the Quakers would ride the momentum from their 29-0 pummeling (a score that broke the 13-year school record for total runs in a game) of Sweet Briar with a surge in the ODAC tournament.

But the team’s narrative continued, and the early jump by lowest seed Lynchburg in their first-round matchup doomed the Quakers for the rest of the tournament. The Hornets rallied with three runs on four hits in the second inning alone en route to their 6-3.

The Quakers were a game away from elimination, bouncing back to beat Eastern Mennonite, 9-2. The difference in this matchup? Guilford was the one to take the early lead. The Quakers behind RBIs from Moreno, Carver and shortstop senior Taylor Boyd gave them six runs in the bottom of the second.

Emory and Henry bested the Quakers with their batting in a 7-2 finish, converting on a third of their at bats and only leaving on runner on base.

Although they would have liked to extend their postseason play, Guilford ended the season with a solid foundation to build on in 2018. If they can prevent teams from getting early leads and maintain their consisting hitting, it would be no surprise to see the Quakers as a top team in not only the conference, but in the country next year.