Hot start for softball heading into conference

The Guilford softball team starts the Old Dominion Athletic Conference play in a very good position. The team has a 10-5 record in non-conference play and starts ODAC play tomorrow against Randolph College.

“We’re doing well,” said head coach Dennis Shores. “Could we be better? Yes, but the girls are playing hard. We start conference this week and that’s really when you want to play your best.”

Last season the team led the NCAA in batting average, and the team is still hitting the ball at a high percentage this season. The team is hitting as a team at a .349 percentage, which is led by junior outfielder Makayla Carver, hitting .577. Not only is Carver hitting for a very good average, she has hit three home runs and stolen nine bases.

The team is not only hitting for average, but power. The team has 20 home runs this year in 15 games and last year had 26 home runs in 43 games. The leading home run hitter is junior catcher Makayla Crawford with 7. Crawford is hitting .491 on the season and 19 RBIs, along with her home runs.

“This year, I came out here with a different mentality than last year,” said Crawford. “I think also that I’ve been practicing a lot more.”

A player that has had a breakout season offensively is junior infielder Anna Wolfe. She has hit .471 and has 5five home runs and 21 RBIs. Last season, Wolfe only hit two homeruns and had 23 RBIs in a full season of play while hitting .333.

“I think my approach to the plate has been more confident this year,” said Wolfe. “I was lacking in that a bit last year. I think that’s really been the difference for me.”

The pitching for the Quakers has continued to stay solid with two main returners in Carver and senior Courtney Lackey. Lackey has carried the load for the pitching with 45.2 innings pitched and a 2.61 ERA.

A standout on the mound has been sophomore Julie Gough, she has a 2.45 ERA in five appearances including four starts. Last season, she only pitched 1.1 innings.

“I was shocked to have been starting some games at the beginning of the season,” said Gough. “I’ve been really proud of myself, honestly, because hard work has really paid off for me because when I wasn’t playing at all, I was working my tail off.”

The last four games the team struggled, winning only two of them. The team split a doubleheader with N.C. Wesleyan on March 16. The team struggled offensively over the two games, only scoring four runs. Against Averett University the team lost 4-1 and then won 8-7 in extra innings. Crawford hit a homerun in the top of the ninth and then first-year Katie McNeill closed out the victory.

Although the team has many returners from last year, they believe this team has some important and beneficial differences.

“People would have groups and cliques and we didn’t mesh well all the time and I feel like this year we don’t have that,” said Gough. “Everybody is so friendly with everybody, we all live together and we all like hangout with each other, everybody just meshes a lot better.”

Although they have done well so far, the team’s most important part of the season is upcoming. The team has a goal of winning the conference championship in a very competitive ODAC. The ODAC includes the reigning Division III national champions, Virginia Wesleyan University, and Emory and Henry College and Randolph-Macon College who made the NCAA Tournament last year.

“Win the ODACs and go to the NCAAs, that’s our goal,” said Shores.