Softball seeks big goals in 2019 season


Andrew Walker

Junior pitcher Julie Gough hurls a pitch during practice on Feb. 6. Gough is the Quakers’ top returning arm from last season.//Photo By Andrew Walker/The Guilfordian

Guilford College softball is coming off its lowest win total since 2012. The team struggled last year after winning a school record 30 games in 2017. The team was 18-24 overall and struggled in Old Dominion Athletic Conference play with a 5-13 record.

This year’s team is loaded with seniors and many other key returners. One highlight of last year’s team was the upset in the first round of the ODAC Tournament of back-to-back national champions Virginia Wesleyan University.

“We have nine returning seniors, so it’s a very mature group. We’re going to hit the ball this year,” said head coach Dennis Shores. “I think pitching looks real good. We played a Division I school in the fall and beat them both games.”

The team is led by seniors Makayla Carver and Makayla Crawford. On Feb. 11, Carver was named to the 2019 Schutt Sports/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) National Player of the Year Watch List. Carver also received preseason All-American honors from Fastpitch News last month. She was an NFCA Third Team All-American and First-Team All-Atlantic region pick in 2018 after hitting .514 in 34 games which is third in school history. Carver led the ODAC in slugging percentage and second in on base percentage. She ties the school career record in doubles, ranks second in runs and stolen bases and fourth in hits. Meanwhile, Crawford is one home run away from breaking the school record in home runs.

Crawford, senior infielder Anna Wolfe and senior infielder Savannah Yale return after being named to the All-ODAC Third Team last year.

The team is looking for more players to step up in the pitching circle this year. With losing their top picture from last year as well as Carver not pitching this year, the team will rely on junior Julie Gough and sophomores Katie McNeill and Abigayle Rowell to hold opponents scoreless.

“I think we’re going by committee and see how it works out,” said Shores.

The team had a 3.70 earned run average last year, but in conference games the ERA was 4.24.

The Quakers’ roster of 29 allows the team to have a lot of depth at each position.

“We have a lot of talent on this team, if any one of our starters gets hurt, we have someone that can step in and do that job just as well,” said Shores.

Guilford is ranked fifth in the ODAC which is about where they expected to be.

“I think that’s a good start for us considering that we are a very young team even though a lot of our starters are upperclassmen,” said senior outfielder Sabrina Moreno.

Powerhouse Virginia Wesleyan University has won the national championship the past two years. Randolph-Macon College joins top-ranked Virginia Wesleyan in the NFCA Preseason Poll at 11th place.

“If you advance to the NCAAs you’re going to see that level of talent,” Shores said. “We have to play that level to be successful.”

This year, the team has seen the addition of a volunteer personal trainer that has been working with the student-athletes throughout the year.

“As the later innings go, we’ll be just as strong as we are in the beginning and I think that’s how we lost a lot of games last year by one run at the end,” Shores said.

The team begins the season on Saturday, Feb. 16 against Pfeiffer University. The ODAC play begins on Mar. 17 at Randolph College.