Erskine’s softball team won the National Christian College Athletic Association national championship Friday in Botetourt, Virginia, with a 2-1 win against Biola University (La Mirada, California).
Erskine coach Alleen Hawkins said Friday’s national title was the culmination of her 19 years of coaching at Erskine, in which she has strived to build the program.
“I think every alumni that we have in the last 19 years, every young lady that’s trusted me to make the program better every single year, deserves to celebrate this,” Hawkins said. “This is not just about this team, even though they’re the ones that actually did it. This is about the journey of everybody that played for Erskine and played for me. I think we all can be proud of this.”
The Fleet came from behind in the championship game, with senior Reagan Davis hitting a two-run double in the sixth inning to score Taylor Antley and Faith Belue.
Erskine finished the regular season 40-12, but missed a regional berth in the NCAA Division II tournament after losses to No. 8 Limestone and North Greenville in the Conference Carolinas tournament.
“We actually thought we were going to get an NCAA regional bid,” Hawkins said. “We were ranked (in the Top 25) every week until the last week. We actually thought that’s where we were going.”
In the NCCAA, the Fleet had been ranked No. 1 in the country for most of the season, and entered its postseason tournament after missing the NCAA tournament.
Despite a high ranking in the NCCAA, the Fleet had to travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and defeated Piedmont International 8-0 in two different games to make it out of the South Regional.
The Fleet then won five games in three days to win the NCCAA title. Erskine beat Kentucky Christian 5-4, then Southwestern Assemblies of God University (Texas) 3-0 on Monday, May 15. The next day, the Fleet defeated Concordia (Michigan) 7-4 and Judson 4-0.
“The more we played, the stronger we got and the better we played,” Hawkins said. “We played solid defense and pitched well the whole weekend.”
Davis, the senior who hit the championship-winning two-run double, was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. Sophomore pitcher Hannah Houge and senior infielder Taylor Payne were named to the All-Tournament team.
The national championship is the Fleet’s second NCCAA national title since joining the organization in May 2018. The Fleet’s men’s golf team won a national championship last fall.
Hawkins said the decision to join the NCCAA last year was not made lightly, as the athletic department had to make membership and travel commitments.
With a national championship won, Hawkins said all the work she’s done to build the program’s facilities and recruiting reputation is worth it.
“It’s an experience that my girls will not forget, Hawkins said. “That’s really the most important thing, that they will remember this forever.”