In commemoration of Women's History Month, ASN is dedicating Wednesdays in March to the heroes of women's history. Today: Longwood, which made history with the sports moment judged the greatest in school history.
The Lancers' softball team beat Virginia Tech 6-4 in eight innings in the NCAA Knoxville Regional on May 16, 2015. It was the first NCAA Division I Tournament victory in school history. Longwood's website tells the story:
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — In a banner season for the Longwood softball program, the Lancers added another first to their resume by capturing the first NCAA Tournament victory in Longwood's Division I era Saturday afternoon in the Knoxville Regional.
The Big South Champion Lancers picked up an historic 6-4 win over in-state foe Virginia Tech in extra innings Saturday afternoon following a two-run triple from Justina Augustine that put the Lancers ahead for good. Saturday's win in the Knoxville Regional marked the first NCAA postseason victory not just for Longwood softball, but for any Longwood athletics program in the team's eight-year Division I era. The Lancers went on to finish one win why of competing in the NCAA Regional Final after falling 2-0 to Utah in their second game Saturday. Longwood concludes its season with a 34-25 record, marking the third straight campaign with 30+ victories.
"We were really pretty pleased with our overall performance this weekend," said Longwood head coach Kathy Riley, who has led Longwood to two NCAA Regionals in the past three seasons. "We played really solid defense all weekend. Of course, we would've like to have won tonight and gotten another shot at playing Tennessee. That would've been fun for us."
While Longwood's 2015 NCAA Tournament run will be best remembered for the 6-4 extra-inning victory over Virginia Tech, the Lancers impressed throughout the two-day experience. Longwood proved it came to the Knoxville Regional looking to win, falling by just a combined four runs to SEC power Tennessee and Pac-12 power Utah, both scores of 2-0.
"We're thankful for the opportunity to come here and get our first Regional win," Riley said. "That was a big deal for us, but it wasn't our ultimate goal."
Longwood's senior class, comprised of Megan Baltzell, Casey Lifsey, Libby Morris, Chelsea Sciacca and Katie Shinrock, will leave Longwood as one of the greatest classes in program history. The quintet has 143 career victories to their credit and is part of a nine-member group to have played in two NCAA Tournaments, along with the junior class of Carly Adams, Jamie Barbour, Emily Murphy and Rebecca Huitt.
"Our five seniors provided a great deal of leadership and experience for us," Riley said. "They have each been here before and they helped our younger girls in terms of what to expect coming into the weekend."
Baltzell will leave as the top player in the program's history, becoming the first All-American in the Division I era in 2013 and earning back-to-back Big South Player of the Year accolades in 2014 and 2015. She leaves Longwood holding all of the major offensive records in school history and as the Big South's all-time career leader in home runs, RBI and walks. In addition, she ends her career ranking ninth in NCAA history in career home runs with 76, including two seasons with 27 or more.
In the circle, Morris will leave Farmville as one of the most decorated pitchers to come through the program. She will leave Longwood fourth on the all-time wins list with 61 victories and in the top-five in career strikeouts. Morris will be remembered as a big-game performer, tossing Longwood to the Big South Championship in 2013 and 2015 to earn Tournament MVP honors in each season. The Dillwyn, Va., native has also started three of Longwood's five games in the NCAA Tournament.
"I've lived with Libby this year back at school and I've learned a lot from her during the two seasons we've been teammates," said sophomore Elizabeth McCarthy, Longwood's ace left-hander and 2015 Big South Pitcher of the Year.