Lancers’ season ends in NCAA Regional

Published 8:20 pm Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The 2019 season for Longwood University’s softball team ended on the school’s graduation day as the Lancers fell 3-1 to the University of North Carolina in their second game of the double-elimination NCAA Knoxville Regional.

“We battled hard,” Longwood Head Coach Kathy Riley said. “It was just we had some opportunities to get some runs in, and we just couldn’t have that big hit, and we just didn’t have enough, again, quality at-bats. If we had more quality at-bats, it would have probably felt better for us, because we played really nice defense, for the most part, and we pitched at a high level today.”

Lancers senior Sydney Gay pitched the entire game, allowing one earned run, four hits and three walks while throwing five strikeouts.

Longwood recorded five hits for the game. Leading the way, as she did for much of the season, was redshirt senior Karleigh Donovan, who went 2-for-2. Additionally, freshman Alexis Wayland went 1-for-4, with a solo home run.

On Friday, the Lancers opened their NCAA Regional play with an 8-0 loss in six innings to host and nationally No. 12-ranked University of Tennessee.

Riley was clearly frustrated after this game, feeling that the Volunteers had not received the Lancers’ best shot.

“I just didn’t think we played well, so it was really difficult to see what we were truly capable of doing,” she said, “because we didn’t play good defense and we didn’t have very good at-bats, so it was really tough to kind of get a feel for what we’re capable of doing.”

She later noted that playing in the Southeastern Conference, Tennessee pitchers are forced to elevate their game because they are facing so many talented batters. She added that the Lancers simply have fewer opportunities to face the level of pitching and batting that would better prepare them for what they will face at an NCAA Regional.

Longwood finished the 2019 season with an overall record of 37-22, clinching their fifth Big South Conference Tournament championship in the last seven years and their third Big South regular season title in the last five.

After Saturday’s game, Riley reflected on what the 2019 Lancers meant to her.

“The first thing I think about is the seniors, because we had six seniors, and they mean a lot just simply because of the amount of time and energy and trust that they put in us, and that’s the thing that sticks out the most,” she said. “As far as the rest of the group, when you put them together, it’s just the fact that they really care about each other — just really good camaraderie and chemistry with the group that we had this year.”

The departing seniors include, Donovan, Gay, Kaylynn “Bug” Batten, Jordan Clark, Jessica Smith and Chelsea Whitcomb.