NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WTKR) — Campers gradually file into Captains Softball Park, smile and catch up with old friends before the start of Keith Parr Softball Camp. Current and recently graduated Christopher Newport University softball players look on with a sly grin, remembering how they all exuded the same excitement not too long ago on the same patch of dirt.
“It is bittersweet,” says CNU graduating senior Kaitlyn Hasty. “I’ll never play another softball game on this field.”
The reigning D-III National Player of the Year will always have the memory of helping to lead the program to its first-ever National Championship, by defeating Trine 3-0 in the final game of a best-of-three D-III College World Series. It capped off the second best season in D-III softball history, finishing 47-1.
This week, those players and coaches on that magical ride to history get to impart their experience and knowledge to young players who aspire to one day hold a trophy of their own.
“It feels different for sure,” says Captains graduating senior outfielder Caitlyn Abernethy. “We have a lot of the same campers every year and I build relationships with them. I get to teach them how our program runs and hopefully they come here in a lot of years.”
It is one of three camps that will be held by Christopher Newport softball head coach Keith Parr. Over the years, he and his staff had to wait until a few days before a camp to fill out the roster. This summer, all three camps were sold out months in advance.
“I don’t know how much of it is tied to our success this season,” jokes Parr of the recent uptick in participation. “We really try to push them to come out and watch softball, watch the big girls go out and do it. The environment we have out here is exciting and we hope it builds their excitement.”
During drills, Hasty is seen sporting the same national championship hat she wore immediately after that career defining day, teaching proper technique to a few of the campers with a smile. Those same campers are locked in with laser focus to every inch and every word she puts forth.
“We can really tell them that we were standing in their shoes at one point,” says Hasty. “If you just have fun and love the game, give it all you’ve got, you can really accomplish some amazing things.”
The bar is set for generations to come in the Virginia Peninsula thanks to the 2022 Captains softball team. Including Virginia Wesleyan’s 2021 National Championship run in the mix, the state of softball is in the best hands possible to advance the game and maintain its elite status in the area.