With one mighty swing of the bat and a complete game two-hitter from the pitching circle, the Maryville College softball team advanced in the NCAA Division III Atlanta regional with a 1-0 victory over the No. 1 seeded Emory University Eagles on Friday afternoon.
Freshman second baseman Taylor Campbell gave the Scots a 1-0 advantage in the top of the fifth inning with a one-out homerun over the left-centerfield elevated fence. Campbell was looking to be aggressive, swinging at the first offering from Emory's Jacqueline Spizizen who struck out a dozen Scots on the day. "The only reason I swung on that pitch was because I knew Coach would yell at me if I didn't," Campbell said with a laugh.
"It was just a great pitch, and I capitalized on it," Campbell said. "I just did my job. We all have our own ways of staying in the zone when we get in the box. When I get up there, I flip my bat around. I just focus and look at my bat. I just block out everything else."
"It started on the way up here," Head Coach Leah Kelley said. "That was one of my worries. We hadn't played in four weeks, so how are they going to come out here? How are they going to be on the way down here? But, they were so relaxed. I think I was more nervous than they were. When their pitcher was striking out batter after batter, we have to be able to make adjustments. That's what I told them, 'Let's make an adjustment and start being aggressive on that first pitch.' Taylor did that. They are having fun."
Kelley said the team even picked up a new motivational point to aid in their relaxation. Each of the girls had colored strands and hair clips in their hair for Friday's matchup with the Eagles.
"They went to CVS last night, and they bought these hair clips," Kelley said. "I was totally against it, but they said, 'Coach, it's going to work.' I guess it worked."
On the mound, another collegiate rookie, Katlyn Smith, allowed only a pair of hits to a talented Eagle lineup. Over seven complete innings, Smith (16-1) struck out three tossing 116 pitches against 26 Eagle hitters.
"That's huge," Kelley said. "This team just keeps doing the right things, and they keep playing the game the way that they've been taught. They are playing to our standard, and to do what we're doing right now, it's just fun. It's just fun to be here, and it's fun to be in this moment. This is my first Regional, and it's their first Regional. They're just having fun."
The NCAA victory is only the second in school's softball history after the Scots defeated Savannah College of Art and Design in 2002 by the score of 2-1. MC's 30th win of the season (30-12) continues to elevate the school record for season victories.
Maryville will play Berry College (37-4) at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday on Emory's Cooper Field.