To the Lancer softball seniors
Published 9:04 am Thursday, May 17, 2018
Since starting as the sports editor for Farmville Newsmedia in late April 2016, all I have ever known with regard to Longwood University’s softball team was postseason championships and unprecedented NCAA Tournament success.
Still, I’ve followed sports long enough to develop a sense of how things could go. In the past, I studied the Lancers’ softball history in the Big South. I was doing it to gauge just how much like clockwork I could count on Head Coach Kathy Riley’s program to produce titles and exciting results come May.
I noticed that in 2014, Longwood enjoyed a phenomenally successful season, finishing 40-16. But that season did not end in a Big South tournament title or a berth in the NCAA Tournament. I made a mental note when I saw this that even for the mighty Lancers, some seasons can simply have ordinary endings.
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Then came May 2017. The Lancers entered the Big South tourney in what was, to me, a surprising state — they were 24-26, below .500. That 2014 season was on my mind then. I was sort of preparing myself for a year that probably wouldn’t have a thrilling finish. But then Longwood went ahead and put one together anyway.
The Lancers showed they could launch postseason success on the heels of extraordinary and ordinary regular seasons.
And that brings us to the 2018 postseason. The Lancers put up a tremendous fight in the Big South semifinals but came home with no Big South title and no NCAA berth.
The hearts of senior players Krista Kelly, Haleigh Kilby, Sydney Mundell, Kelsey Sweeney and Glenn Walters are likely particularly heavy, and yet I am compelled to offer them that classic encouragement to hold their heads high.
Because I can say the following without any sentimentalization: They helped establish an elite winning culture that makes this early postseason ending feel like an exception. They won’t be remembered for losses because losing simply doesn’t characterize them. Winning does. And any reflection on their college career will always affirm that.
Titus Mohler is the sports editor for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. His email address is Titus.Mohler@FarmvilleHerald.com.