The Mount de Sales Cavaliers softball team clinched the school’s first title for any sport in the GHSA since they elected to join in 2013.
It was a moment that they had been waiting for since head coach Katherine Smith started the softball program in 2014.
“I started the program in 2014 and we had three wins. The next year we had six. So we have been building for a few years now,” Smith said. “For our hard work to finally pay off, it was the best feeling ever.”
The Cavaliers were the third team in Middle Georgia to capture a title in softball this season, joining Westfield and Windsor, who took home GISA championships.
Mount de Sales went a perfect 4-0 in the state playoffs including knocking off a 29-0 Wesleyan team twice including a 2-0 victory in the title game.
The Cavaliers were underdogs heading into that first meeting but Smith said once they grabbed that win, their goal of winning a championship would be possible.
“They are a solid team top to bottom. I told them that we would have to be perfect and we were almost perfect both times,” Smith said. “When we got to the championship game we knew that we were going to succeed in our goal of winning the whole thing.”
The team came into the tournament with goals of being able to hit well at the plate but take advantage of their strength in pitching well. Chloe Nepveux and Jordyn Partain allowed no more than two runs in a game the entire tournament and combined for 39 strikeouts. At the plate, Sarah Hatcher went 7-12 with a home run, 5 runs batted in, with a batting average of .583 for the tournament
The stat that Smith points to as the key to winning was defense only committing one error.
“We told them that the key was going to be what we did at the plate and having solid defense,” Smith said. “I really believe that and the pitching was really key to us winning all four games and going undefeated.”
This moment was special for Smith because the last time Mount de Sales hoisted a state title in softball was in 1995 when they were members of the GISA.
“It was kind of special because the last one when we were in GISA in 1995 and my mom Lynn Hatcher was the coach of the softball team at that point,” She said. “I don’t even know how to put it in words. We were just so unbelievably excited and it meant so much because we’ve been working so hard for this the last few years.”
Mount de Sales will return its entire team next season as not a single member of the championship team is a senior. The team has a group of nine juniors that started this run in 2017 when Mount de Sales made it to Columbus for the state tournament for the first time.
“We have been joking that next year would be our year and so you know that was a goal for this year. But we just wanted to finish strong. We definitely did,” Smith said. “We are just really excited about us accomplishing that this year and hoping to do it again next year.”
The key to a return for the Cavaliers is to remain focused on the task at hand and try to grow together as a team, Smith said.
“Obviously you have to stay humble and you can’t assume anything. Our focus this year was working as a family,” She said. “That is important to me, all of us staying together and playing for each other and the team so that we can accomplish those goals.”