Updated: Apr 17
The fifth-ranked Salisbury softball team has won 15 of its last 16 games after a 2-4 start to the season. The Sea Gulls most recent wins came against Lynchburg, who was also the first to knock off the maroon and gold since March 7.
Salisbury opened the 2021 season with two road matchups against top-five teams Christopher Newport and Virginia Wesleyan. The Sea Gulls were able to split their first series of the year against their Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference rival CNU and took one out of three matchups against the Marlins.
Sophomore outfielder Abby Mace said the early season victories over CNU and Virginia Wesleyan gave the team a confidence boost and prepared them to where they want to go this season.
“We learned a lot from those games, and we didn’t really play our best at those games,” Mace said. “I think moving forward, there isn’t a team that we can’t beat if we’re playing 100 percent and we’re playing at our level.”
Head softball coach Lacey Lord agrees.
Lord said the early games against quality competition helped the team get their feet under them moving forward in the season.
“Once those games were complete, we really hit the field hard and got after the weaknesses we had seen in those games and made it a point to improve on the little things that we needed to do moving forward,” Lord said.
One of the most important qualities of the team in Lord’s first season at the helm is team unity.
Sophomore pitcher Savannah Sheats said this goes beyond the skill they have around the diamond and has helped push them to the results they desire.
“I think that we have a lot of talent on the team, and we’ve been working on working together to win the games and work as one unit,” Sheats said. “We’ve really been stressing unity on the team and working together.”
Mace is one of the top contributors to Salisbury’s offense this season, achieving career highs with her team-leading six home runs and .412 batting average. She also leads the team in stolen bases and doubles.
Mace credits her success at the plate this season to putting the work in on what she was struggling with in prior seasons in the offseason and at practice.
“I think that has really helped me this year hitting wise and finding ways to get on base and finding ways to make good contact with the ball,” Mace said. “It’s not about hitting home runs and it’s not about having the best slugging percentage, but just showing up for my team and getting on base anyway I can.”
Sheats is a leader in Salisbury’s young bullpen, ranking second on the team in innings pitched, strikeouts and earned-run average. She also comes up one win behind sophomore pitcher Lindsey Windsor for second on the team, with Windsor having seven and Sheats having six.
Sheats said she is never happy with her current level, always looking ahead to something greater.
“Something we really talk about is not being content and wanting more for yourself and for your team, so it pushes everyone to do better,” Sheats said. “I’m not content with what I’m doing so I want to push myself to do better, and the whole team does, and I think that unifies us and makes us want to perform at the next level.”
Although Salisbury recently saw the win streak come to an end, Lord said she has reminded her players of one crucial thing.
To always show your love and dedication to the game, regardless of the outcomes.
“Whether we are on a two-game win streak or a 12-game win streak, you still have to get after it every day like it’s a new game and I think that’s part of respecting the game,” Lord said. “The game doesn’t know who is going to win so when you walk into it, you have to play your best every single time.”
By BRANDON STARK
Photo courtesy of Sports Information.