Scots close season with highest-ever finish within NCAA Tournament

Scots close season with highest-ever finish within NCAA Tournament

May 15, 2018

Maryville College's historic 2018 softball campaign came to a close on Sun., May 13, as the Scots claimed their highest-ever finish within the NCAA Tournament.

MC earned the NCAA Atlanta Regional Runners-Up title following a season-ending loss to No. 4 Berry College by the score of 1-0. This is the first time in school history that the Scots’ softball program 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 opened their post-season challenge defeating tournament host Emory University 1-0 behind a solo homerun from freshman second baseman Taylor Campbell and a two-hit shutout from the pitcher’s circle from freshman Katlyn Smith.

MC’s second challenge came in a winner’s bracket loss to Berry by the score of 7-1. The Scots held the nation’s No. 4 team to a 2-0 deficit for the first four innings, before the Vikings tallied four unearned runs in the fifth inning.

The Scots stepped up in an elimination challenge with Emory, eliminating the Eagles with a 5-2 victory. Morgan Brewer and Alexus Murray tallied a pair of hits with Essence Strambler adding a pair of key RBI. Katlyn Smith earned her 17th pitching victory of the season, scattering five hits while allowing only two earned runs.

In the tournament finale, Maryville’s defense and solid pitching from Smith was not enough to overcome Berry’s pair of hits that included a solo homerun. The victory allowed the Vikings to claim their first-ever regional title.

"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."

Maryville's Smith, CampbellMurray and Brewer earned NCAA Regional All-Tournament accolades for their efforts in the national spotlight.

"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 (31-13) 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."

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Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the Fall 2018 semester is 1,154.