The Auburn High School softball team set new school and state records this season including a 22-0 regular season mark, but they fell one short of the ultimate goal of a state championship with a 5-1 loss Saturday to Rappahannock High School.
Coach David Hurd said 2018 was a great season for sure as the team broke the state record for most runs scored in a season with 351 runs while only giving up 32.
“We hit more home runs (34) than runs given up. Our team was fantastic and played as well as possible for 25 of our 26 games. We were outplayed against Rappahannock on Saturday and everyone in that dugout would love to have it to do again. We gave up a couple of runs early on some plays that were uncharacteristic and we didn’t cash in our opportunities when we had a chance to tie the game,” he said.
Pitcher Skyler Dehart struck out six and allowed five hits in the contest, suffering her first loss of the season. As a team, Auburn finished 25-1.
The state title tilt came less than 24 hours after a 3-2 win over Northwood in the semi-finals, and the coach wondered how much that affected his team.
“I wonder how much had been taken out of us emotionally having to play such a tough game on Friday and then turning around and playing again on Saturday morning. I don’t know how physically tired we were but I’m sure Friday spent a lot of emotional energy,” he said.
Being runner up, according to Hurd, is not what they had set their sights on. “Everyone associated with our program is disappointed with the outcome. It is awesome to look back at what we accomplished but we all had a goal and we fell just one step short. Our girls have a lot to be proud of, but complacency is the enemy of a competitor. Being runner-up is fuel for us going forward. I am sure all of my players feel this way and I feel confident that I speak for the group when I say that we intend to be back in 2019 to take another crack at it,” he said.
Auburn softball remains in a good position. They only lose one player (Lacey Bishop) and have a strong group of younger kids that are very strong. Hurd said their goal is to return in 2019.
“We will continue to set high expectations and work to meet them with every day of practice. Lacey is a big loss, but we have kids who will step up and fill the void. This group is very tough and gritty. They will not accept the finish we had to this season. Our program has 106 wins in the last five seasons, and we have won four conference or district championships, three regional championships and appeared in three final fours in that span. We only have one thing left to do and the state championship will continue to be our goal,” the coach concluded.