NEWPORT NEWS, VA (WTKR)- Christopher Newport has seen exceptional success with several of its athletic programs this academic year. The Captains' women's soccer team won a national championship, the women's basketball squad climbed to the number one ranking in the country and the softball team is the latest to add itself to the list.
CNU softball finished the regular season 35-1 and will host the Coast-to-Coast Conference tournament next week. The Captains' only loss came in the second game of a double-header against Averett on March 27. They've won 12 in a row and have spent the last six weeks as the top-ranked team in the nation.
"I definitely think there is some pressure, but we just kind of talk to each other about it and we've earned the right to be here," said senior first baseman Kaitlyn Hasty, a Western Branch product. "When you've earned something, there's not that much pressure and I think we're just really excited to see how hard we've worked this year."
"There is pride that comes with it, but there is a lot of pressure because I know everyone wants to beat us no matter what," added fellow first baseman and Hickory graduate Caroline Helmer. "I think it gives us good competition, regardless of who we're playing and we know we just have to do our best every game."
Winning 35 of 36 games is difficult in softball, even for the most talented clubs. It's a game where unlucky things can happen that make or break a game and the Captains have taken advantage of most of their opportunities. Christopher Newport is fourth nationally with a .392 team batting average and its team ERA of 1.20 is good enough for fourth among all Division III teams as well. The Captains are also second in home runs (63) and hits (387).
"I knew that we'd be really really good this year," noted head coach Keith Parr. "You can never have an expectation to go through a regular season with one loss. No matter how you look at going into a season, with the competition that we play, to go through and only have one loss at this point and 35 wins in a 36 game stretch, it's pretty remarkable."
"In the fall I knew we were going to have a special team, just because of the way we were coming together and I really knew we were going to be something special this year," added Helmer.
CNU is excelling and does not have to look far to find talent. Only five of the Captains are from out of state and six of them hail from Hampton Roads, so most of the team's success is due to the performance of homegrown talent.
"There's not a big reason to go out of state," Parr pointed out. "We do have some out-of-state ladies on our team, contributors to our team, and we're excited that they're here, but the good thing is we don't have to go very far to try to put a great team together."
"It's really special that we all get to have our families in the stands at pretty much every game we have, regardless if it's home or away," Helmer noted. "We have fans from all over Virginia just cheering us on and I think it's really special."
The scary thing for opponents is the fact that the Captains feel that their best softball is still in front of them. They'll host the Coast-to-Coast Tournament beginning Wednesday before discovering NCAA Tournament pairings.