Maryville College's historic 2018 softball campaign came to a close on Sunday afternoon, as the Scots claimed their highest-ever finish within the NCAA Tournament.
MC claimed the NCAA Atlanta Regional Runners-Up on Sunday. That's the highest ever mark, and the first time in school history that the Scots have claimed at least two wins in the NCAA postseason.
"This is who we are now," Head Coach Leah Kelley said. "That's what I told them after the game. They have set a true face of what Maryville College Softball is going to look like now. They have worked extremely hard, and there was a lot of ups and downs. This is who we are. Now, we are a competitive team that plays in the national tournament."
Maryville College outhit No. 4 Berry College, 5-2, but a third-inning home run by Kayla Sangrey would give the Vikings a 1-0 win on Championship Sunday.
The Scots played a flawless game without a single error, as USA South Rookie Pitcher of the Year Katlyn Smith allowed just two hits through six innings of work. She fanned six, allowing just one earned run.
"I mean today was just an outstanding game on both sides," Kelley said. "We played our hearts out today, and I told them on the bus, 'Win, lose or whatever, just have fun and play our game.' They did that. We executed today, all day long. Berry just came out on top. They are a great team. They're very talented, and they play with heart. They play with passion. So do we. They just came out on top today."
"It's honestly been unforgettable," lone senior Rachel Taylor said. "We've broken a lot of records this year, and this one is pretty cool. Just to be able to make it here [to the championship game], it's our first time for this softball program. To make it here and win two games and be in the championship, it just speaks a lot about our season as a whole. It's been awesome. It really has."
Maryville has enjoyed a key turnaround in the program. During Taylor's freshman season, MC tallied just 14 victories and did not reach either the USA South Athletic Conference or NCAA Tournaments.
This season, however, the Scots set the new standard for wins in a season at 31 victories, as they claimed both the first USA South Regular Season title and the first USA South Tournament crown in school history.
MC's time in the NCAA Regional marks only the third time in school history, as the 2018 squad joins both the 2002 and 2007 Scots. Those records join the tallies that MC set within the NCAA Tournament as the 2018 squad rewrites the Maryville College record books.
"It's been wild," Taylor said. "I was talking to Coach earlier, and she said, 'Did you ever picture yourself being here?' I didn't. Just to be here and experience it and see the transformation, I give a lot to [Coach Kelley] for getting us here. The players bought in. It speaks volumes about this team this year. Like she said, I think we set a standard – a standard of Maryville College Softball. And I'm excited to be an Alumni and watch it happen – the success the rest of the way."
Berry College (39-4) advances to the NCAA Super Regionals next weekend, as Sangrey led the way with a 1-for-2 day. She added a run and an RBI, Kaitlin Seagers' 1-for-2 effort marked the second Viking hit of the day.